Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 16
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to
the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Wolfgang Relit, President of the
Federal Council of the Republic of Austria, who is leading a delegation of his
colleagues on their visit to Canada.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, last Thursday during Question Period,
Senator Carstairs posed a series of questions related to Bill C-25, An Act to
amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The honourable senator stated:
On Monday, while watching "Politics" on CBC, the Conservative
spokesperson referred to amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act as
having two purposes: deterrence and denigration.
I want to inform all honourable senators that this information is incorrect.
Rob Moore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, did not use the
word "denigration" during his appearance on CBC Newsworld's "Politics" on
November 19, 2007.
During his appearance on this program, the parliamentary secretary used the
word "denunciation" repeatedly. Our government is seeking to include this
sentencing principle, along with deterrence, under the Youth Criminal Justice
Act to allow the courts to consider it as an objective of sentencing. Mr. Moore
clearly stated in this interview that this sentencing principle sends the
message that we, as a society, publicly condemn these criminal actions.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, today is a sad day for the
Canadian legal community and for all defenders of rights and freedoms in this
country. The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer passed away, leaving behind a great
Born in Montreal, he served in the Royal Canadian Artillery. He then obtained
a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Montreal and was later called to the
Quebec bar. After spending some time in the private sector, he worked in a
variety of capacities within the Canadian legal system and on a number of boards
He was appointed to the Superior Court of Quebec in 1969. In 1971, he became
vice-president of the Law Reform Commission of Canada, and its president in
1976. He was also a member of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. Justice
Lamer was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal of Quebec in 1978 and of the
Supreme Court of Canada in 1980, and became Chief Justice of Canada, the highest
position in the Canadian judiciary, in 1990.
He arrived at the Supreme Court just in time to leave his mark on the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and on the Constitution. He set the tone
for the respect of the Constitution, the Charter and the rights of individuals.
This great Quebecer and Canadian worked very hard throughout his brilliant
career to defend his country's interests and those of his fellow Canadians. He
will always be remembered as a great champion of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. His absolute commitment to the Charter principles greatly
contributed to giving that document the important status that it enjoys today.
He also advanced jurisprudence related to Aboriginal law. I am convinced that
francophones outside Quebec owe him a great debt of gratitude for protecting
Since his retirement I have had the pleasure of dining with him about a dozen
times a year, and I learned a lot from him. I will miss our long dinners and our
discussions. My colleague, Senator Nolin, attended some of these dinners, and I
think he too will remember them with fondness.
His contributions will no doubt have a major impact on future generations.
On behalf of all my parliamentary colleagues, and our friends from the Press
Club, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and relatives
of Mr. Lamer.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, once again, our
Conservative government is showing real leadership in protecting Canadians from
crime. Our government is tackling violent crime, has introduced a national
anti-drug strategy and is working to increase penalties for criminals who use
Honourable senators who know of my interest in combating Internet spam will
not be surprised to know how keen I am to support legislation designed to
prevent identity theft.
"Phishing" is an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive
information like user names, passwords and credit card information over the
Internet. Spammers who masquerade as a trustworthy entity use this as a means to
steal identities of persons, corporations and even non-government organizations.
Consider, for example, two weeks ago, on November 14, the Honourable Monte
Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, sent an email
informing the public service that spammers had fraudulently posed as the
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada — the FCAC. Spammers had sent emails to
various Canadian financial institutions that claimed to be from the FCAC and
said they were investigating complaints. The email recipients were directed to
click a link in the email to view the status of the complaint and to provide
specific financial information. This is how identities are stolen.
Canada's new government is now turning its attention to this important issue
of identity theft. Identity theft is emerging as a major crime that can stalk
anyone at any time. It is especially dangerous to those, in particular seniors
using the Internet, who may not even know that they are at risk. It is the
ultimate invasion of privacy. Using personal information gained from hacking or
stolen personal records, fraudsters are ruthlessly stripping Canadians of their
money, identity and self-respect.
Abusing and misusing another person's identity information is already covered
under the Criminal Code; but steps leading up to that point, such as collecting,
possessing and trafficking in identity information, are generally not captured
by existing offences. Legislation now before the other place will change this
situation by directly targeting aspects of identity theft.
Nancy Hughes Anthony, head of the Canadian Bankers Association, has strongly
endorsed this legislation, stating:
This bill represents concrete action in the fight against identity theft
and we applaud and support today's efforts to put consumer protection at the
forefront, where it should be.
This builds on the many initiatives our government is taking to protect
Canadians from all forms of crime, while ensuring that offenders are held to
account for their actions.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, the following is a
statement of commitment to our troops from Vimy to Afghanistan.
In April of this year, we celebrated the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle
of Vimy Ridge. Thousands of Canadian soldiers were killed or injured during that
battle, which was part of a long and bloody war. Almost 65 years ago, nearly
2,000 Canadian soldiers were killed, injured or taken prisoner on the beaches at
Dieppe, during another long and bloody war. These classic wars of the past were
fundamentally based on attrition. In order to achieve our objectives, we had to
be prepared to accept a high number of casualties on our side, and show
perseverance and determination to sustain our efforts until the final victory,
despite the bloodbaths and the suffering.
Those who fought in those classic wars sustained both physical and mental
injuries that remained with them for the rest of their lives. In those wars of
attrition, the scale of losses and the massive impact of casualties returning
home challenge to a nation's core its will to pursue and be victorious. In this
post-Cold War era, where the casualty rates in civilian populations massively
outweigh the losses of the militaries engaged in combat and protection tasks,
the will of the sovereign developed countries is once again tested by the return
of those valiant soldiers who pay the price of life and their future in so much
more complex and ambiguous missions in farther-off lands than we could have
imagined in the past.
In this general period of remembrance, the question that arises from those
who have borne the brunt of our desire, our duty to maintain our security and to
assist in bringing peace to other peoples, is: Are we as worthy today as our
elders of their commitment and of the enormous sacrifices they and their
families are called upon to pay?
The death of a warrior on the battlefield, whether the soldier was killed or
injured in Afghanistan, Korea or Europe during World War II, is equally
laudable, dreadful and worthy of our respect and gratitude.
On the issue of the price that must be paid for peace and security in far-off
lands where extremism and human rights abuse are commonplace, the value remains
the same, the price is just as high and the need just as great.
Weapons still exist that can obliterate the planet and all of its life forms
within minutes, and powerful nations still resort to the use of military
strength to impose their will or protect their influence on others. However,
there is still considerable hope that soldiers of this era and the future will
be used more often not only as simple peacekeepers as in the recent past, but
also as warriors of peace who are prepared to fight and die to protect those
innocent human beings whose rights are massively abused by rogue governments and
rebellious, subversive elements within their borders. As veterans of previous
wars have done, modern-day warriors of peace will commit themselves to the
unlimited liability of service to their nation and pay the ultimate price in the
protection and rendering of security for those humans who exist in inhuman
conditions in far-off lands across the globe.
The abnegation and commitment that these warriors of peace and their families
give to their missions are nothing less than exemplary. It is sad and immature
that generations like ours cannot muster the same depth of commitment and
sacrifice as did those who preceded them in order to sustain the enormous price
of peace, security, human dignity, human rights, rule of law, gender equality
and democracy in imploding nations and democracies around the world.
When we say "Je me souviens", or "I remember", we remind ourselves that
the incredibly precious and worthy existence of our country is owed in part to
the sacrifices of our fathers who served for decades under our flags around the
world. This expression of remembrance should become a rallying cry and a cry of
encouragement for those serving today in complex missions that are just as
essential to the respect and dignity of human beings suffering abuse in far-off
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the headline in my hometown
newspaper this morning read, "Rider Victory Reflects Sask.'s new confidence."
Next to that was the headline: "Sask. Liberal party's future shaky." It is
Tuesday morning and there is nothing but good news.
I will talk about the former headline rather than the latter. After an
18-year championship drought, the Saskatchewan Roughriders won the Grey Cup on
Sunday. The margin of victory was not huge; the Riders won 23 to 19 over the
Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I want to point out that the Blue Bombers is another
Western team, despite the fact they are in the Eastern Conference.
It was smash-mouth football from another era. As the newspaper described it:
It was "a trench warfare, gut-busting, take-no-prisoners struggle that went
down to the final half-minute. . . ." In 1989, the hero was David Ridgeway,
and I have an autographed picture of him in my office if anyone wants to have a
look sometime. Honourable senators might have guessed by now that I am somewhat
of a fan of the Riders.
This year the Grey Cup hero was defensive back James Johnson, who in the
space of one half of a football game went from a bum in many fans' eyes to a
hero for all Saskatchewan fans. He got burned on a 50-yarder early in the second
half that gave Winnipeg real hope; and he picked off a Winnipeg pass in the last
half minute that ended the dreams of that team.
I congratulate Mr. Johnson and his teammates for not only this victory, but
also for a great season of football. I congratulate Kent Austin, coach, who
showed this team how to win all year. In spite of his protestations to the
contrary, he led the Saskatchewan team to victory yesterday, just as he led them
to a Grey Cup victory as quarterback in 1989.
As he intimated, this was a team effort, as all things are in Saskatchewan,
and a job well done by all the players. Congratulations to Winnipeg and
Saskatchewan for a Grey Cup game that was truly a tribute to all Canadians.
Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, access to post-secondary
education in rural communities is an important key to sustainable rural economic
development. When young people from rural areas are able to attend university
close to home, it means that they are able to help out on the farm or with the
family business, all the while contributing to the rural economy.
Students who study in rural settings are more likely to return to their
respective communities once they have completed their post-secondary education.
This benefits local area businesses who are desperately trying to attract
professionals and skilled labourers to their communities.
Established in 1921, and affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan, St.
Peter's College, my alma mater, is an example of a rural university making a
real contribution to regional and rural development in Saskatchewan. Canada's
only Benedictine liberal arts and science college is situated on 250 acres of
mixed forest overlooking Wolverine Creek, 110 kilometres east of Saskatoon. It
offers approximately 50 courses in university programs ranging from commerce and
pre-medicine to social work and pre-law.
Honourable senators, grounded in tradition and looking toward the future, the
college is emerging as Canada's pre-eminent rural college through its
commitment to university, professional and community programming. The students
at St. Peter's College are being taught by the best and the principles, values
and lessons in life that they learn there will guide and protect them for the
rest of their lives.
On Friday, September 14, I had the honour of addressing St. Peter's students
at an awards ceremony in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Students received awards for
their academic excellence, community involvement and achievement in sports. The
diversity of these students' accomplishments and their commitment to learning
was truly inspiring. A large number of St. Peter's students return to live and
work in rural areas. These students are making a direct contribution to the
rural economy and helping rural economic development.
Honourable senators, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate and
to commend the students of St. Peter's College on their personal achievements,
as well to thank them for their contribution to this great adventure we call
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the President
of the Treasury Board's annual report to Parliament, entitled Canada's
Performance 2006-07: the Government of Canada's Contribution.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of the participants in the Fall 2007
Parliamentary Officers' Study Program.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Senate urges the Prime Minister to convene forthwith a meeting
of the First Ministers of the Provinces and Territories and of Canada, for
the specific purpose of considering the future of the institutions of the
Parliament of Canada.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished
during the first session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament in relation to the
study on the state of Francophone culture in Canada by the Standing Senate
Committee on Official Languages, pursuant to the order of reference adopted
by the Senate on May 3, 2007, be referred to the committee for the purposes
of its study on the application of the Official Languages Act, pursuant to
the order of reference adopted by the Senate on November 20, 2007.
Hon Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 57(2), I
give notice that two days hence:
I shall call the attention of the Senate to the 10th Anniversary of the
signing of the Ottawa Treaty against the use of land mines.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would
like to remind her that, nearly two years ago, international leaders gathered in
Montreal to discuss climate change. At the time, Canada set out on a mission and
managed to achieve consensus on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Two years later, Canada has switched from world leader to Kyoto killer.
Newspaper headlines are pointing out that Canada is alone in this, and other
nations are criticizing the Prime Minister's efforts to block the deal at the
Climate change is the most pressing issue we are facing. How then can the
government pretend that it is not a pawn of the Americans and the multinational
oil companies in Alberta?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the government is taking a reasonable
approach to this whole issue. I draw the attention of the honourable senator to
the editorial in the National Post this morning and also to the column by
Jeffrey Simpson in The Globe and Mail. The fact is that the Prime
Minister and the government have shown leadership on the issue of the
environment. His stand at the Commonwealth summit was absolutely consistent with
the position he took at the G8 and APEC meetings. Clearly, all reasonable
observers would acknowledge that this is the responsible way forward. We all
know what happens when countries sign on to agreements with no plans to
There is absolutely no way that the world can proceed to reduce greenhouse
gases and deal with the whole question of the environment without all of the
major polluters at the table, including a member of the Commonwealth, India, as
well as China and the United States.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I think that the Prime Minister and
President Bush are the only ones who still refuse to take action against
greenhouse gases. The outgoing Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, was
shown the door because of his position on the environment. Naturally, this is
food for thought, especially considering he did not win his seat.
I would like to remind the Leader of the Government in the Senate that we
need to seriously tackle this problem. With that in mind, can the Leader of the
Government in the Senate tell us when the Prime Minister will do us proud on the
international scene by playing an active role as the leader of a developed
country, instead of following the agenda of developing countries such as India,
China and other, much smaller countries?
Senator LeBreton: First, Canada is not following the agenda of the
United States, and it was clear at the Commonwealth summit that several
countries shared Canada's position. Some of the reports were incorrect.
However, let us pretend for the moment that Canada stood alone. What becomes
obvious is the leadership capability of the Prime Minister, in being able to
bring everyone around to the reasonable approach that Canada has taken. The
government and the Prime Minister have shown leadership on this matter. We
already know the sad results of signing on to protocols and accords that we have
no intention of living up to, let alone any idea of how we would live up to
I understand New Zealand was one of the countries at the Commonwealth summit
that also agreed with Canada's position. With regard to Australia — according to
an editorial I read on the Internet in one of the Sydney newspapers — Mr.
Howard's defeat cannot be linked to the environment alone. His defeat was really
brought about, according to some of the commentary I read, because he had been
there for quite a long period of time. The voters of Australia factored that in
when they voted in the election on Saturday.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it goes like this: The fire
chief arrives at the burning house but with only two of his three fire trucks,
turns to the firefighters who are there and says, "Do not start anything until
the third fire truck arrives." That is not a joke and there is no punchline. In
fact, very unfortunately, this is exactly the position that Prime Minister
Harper took at the Uganda conference. If it were not so disingenuous, and if it
were not so frightening, in fact if it were not so literally pathetic, it might
actually be a joke.
Why will this Prime Minister simply not stop misleading the world and
misleading Canadians with his suggestion that all countries have to be on side
before he will agree to binding emission targets, when really he is clearly,
fundamentally, a climate change denier who will never agree to do anything
significant to combat climate change?
Senator LeBreton: Thank you, Senator Mitchell. The fact is, and it has
been well acknowledged by many people, that Canada has to be part of a global
solution to this problem.
The honourable senator talks about fire trucks. I can give another analogy.
If I live in a house and I am told to keep my property in good order and to keep
my garbage cleaned up but my neighbours on either side refuse to do likewise, am
I responsible for all the garbage on the street? That is how ridiculous the
The Prime Minister has taken a consistent and reasonable position from the
very beginning. I do not need to remind the honourable senator that greenhouse
gas emissions went up under the previous government. He seems to take offence to
that, but it happens to be the reality.
The way forward is to have a reasonable solution that includes the major
emitters, being mindful of the impact on Canada's economy. The environment and
the economy are closely linked. I think all Canadians believe that this is the
Canada has taken many measures within our realm of responsibility to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. We are doing our part. On the global front, it is
important that major emitters such as India, China and the United States do
their part. The United States did not sign on to the Kyoto accord, yet the
percentage of their emissions increase was much less than ours.
Senator Mitchell: It was an unfortunate analogy that the leader chose
to explain her position. In fact, it is the neighbours who are creating the
garbage. It is the Western industrialized nations that have built their
economies and created the emissions that are now damaging the neighbours who
have not contributed to the problem.
When the Prime Minister hears countries like Malta, for example, lay out
their concern that the consequences of climate change will be catastrophic for
them, what depth of selfishness and lack of insight resides in his Conservative
heart that he would not want to do whatever we can do to help those people to
solve a problem that we have created and from which they will have to suffer?
Senator LeBreton: Is the honourable senator saying that I, as a
neighbour living in the centre of this, is not only responsible for my own
property, but also that I should pay my neighbours to clean up their property
with no guarantee that they will do it?
I believe Senator Mitchell is engaging in the same rhetoric that he has been
uttering for quite some time. This is an issue on which the Prime Minister has
been consistent. He has shown strong leadership on this subject. The Minister of
the Environment has done likewise. The Prime Minister and the members at the
summit all signed the communiqué, so they all agreed with the Prime Minister,
and that is consistent with what the Prime Minister said at both the G8 and APEC
Senator Mitchell: This response demonstrates the lack of understanding
of the leader. No one is saying that Canada must pay to clean up another
country's problems. We are saying, "Why not impose hard targets in Canada to
reduce our carbon footprint in this country, thereby leading the world and
contributing to other parts of the world, thereby stimulating our economy?" Can
I not get it through the leader's head that Kyoto and climate change initiatives
are not an economic burden? They are an economic opportunity.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator says today that I do not
understand what I am talking about. Senator Carstairs said last week that I did
not know the definition of "denunciation." That is the view of the honourable
We are committed to taking real and balanced action on the environment. Our
plan sets tough and achievable mandatory targets for all major industrial
sectors to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, and by 60 to 70
per cent by 2050. I point out again that under the leader of the Liberal Party,
who was the Minister of the Environment, our greenhouse gas emissions rose 33
per cent above Canada's Kyoto targets. That proves that signing on to an
agreement with no idea of how to implement it because you are trying to garner a
few nice headlines in some of the media or curry favour with a couple of
countries does not solve the problem.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
I commend the Prime Minister on last week's announcement of a funding
initiative to save 1 million African lives. The Prime Minister says that it will
save over 500 African lives per day. In light of the fact that malaria kills
3,000 African children per day, can the honourable leader tell us how much of
the $105 million over the next five years will go specifically towards fighting
malaria? Will this funding be in addition to what is already allocated for
malaria prevention by the federal government?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for her question and welcome her
back. I was pleased to learn that she accompanied the Prime Minister on his trip
to Uganda. I will take the question as notice and obtain an exact breakdown as
to how this money will be allocated.
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, may I also request that the
Leader of the Government in the Senate find out whether the federal government
has provided additional money requested by the World Health Organization and the
Red Cross for malaria projects that are currently underway? I should also like
to know how much money will be provided towards a major expansion of CIDA's bed
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will be happy to inform
Senator Jaffer of same. As she knows, the Prime Minister has said in answer to
questions from the media that we still have quite some work to do in the field
of foreign aid. I will be happy to take her second question as notice as well.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I was happy to hear that the
Prime Minister brought Senator Jaffer to Uganda. Maybe Mr. Baird can take
Senator Mitchell with him on his trip to Bali.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Dawson: The Leader of the Government would be relieved for a
Two years ago, honourable senators, Prime Minister Harper campaigned on the
concept of respecting the will of the provinces. In particular, I recall his
promise to respect the provinces' wishes when it comes to international
negotiations. Once again, the Conservative government says one thing, but does
another. All the parties in the Quebec National Assembly recognize the
importance of the Kyoto Protocol. The government is thumbing its nose at the
consensus in Quebec. In spite of everything, in his budget speech, the Minister
of Finance, Mr. Flaherty, said that the long, tiring, unproductive era of
bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over. How can we
believe such a statement when the federal government is not keeping its promise
to communicate the positions of Quebec and the other provinces to the rest of
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank Senator Dawson for his question. The preamble to the
question was an enticing suggestion.
The Prime Minister and the government are working very hard. Part of our
mandate is to respect provincial rights. In the case of the Province of Quebec,
we have delivered on many fronts in that regard. In some areas, obviously, the
federal government holds positions on which individual provinces may have
differing opinions. That in no way detracts from either the federal government
or the province concerned. As a matter of fact, that is one of the wonderful
products of our democracy.
However, I believe the position the Prime Minister has taken on the
environment and the Kyoto accord is valid. As much as people may like to say
otherwise, many people in the honourable senator's own party acknowledge,
including the deputy leader, that the Kyoto accord was not able to be
accomplished. The senior adviser to then Prime Minister Chrétien has stated
publicly that the accord was signed onto with no plan or idea as to how it would
Senator Dawson: How can the government claim that it provides the
provinces the opportunity to be heard when it is not allowing Quebec Premier
Jean Charest to raise the matter of Kyoto at the next summit of the Francophonie
in Quebec City next fall?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. Of
course, the Premier of Quebec is a well-known environmentalist. When he was a
federal cabinet minister, he attended the original conference, the Earth Summit,
in Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Charest's views on the environment are well known and
The Government of Canada has a national responsibility on the environmental
front. We have taken many actions already — which Premier Charest would have
surely supported — including the preserving of lands in this country. We have
also laid out our "Turning the Corner" plan.
I suppose the problem is the actual Kyoto Protocol, which, as we know — much
as others might like to believe otherwise — is now impossible. We cannot go back
and answer for work that was not done or actions that were not taken. We only
have to work from here into the future, and I believe the government is on solid
footing. I believe the general public across the country supports that position.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: How can the minister defend Prime Minister Harper
who prefers to have his picture taken in Rivière-du-Loup with Mario Dumont
rather than meeting with the Quebec premier to discuss the economy?
Why does Prime Minister Harper refuse to meet with the other provinces to
discuss the Constitution? Why does he refuse to acknowledge that Quebec has a
position on the Senate to which the government does not listen?
Finally, how can he make all these comments about Mr. Charest when he refused
to meet him and preferred to be photographed with Quebec's Leader of the
That is an insult, honourable senators!
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The honourable senator is wrong. The Prime Minister has not
refused to meet with Premier Charest. As a matter of fact, I think he has met
with Premier Charest more than any other premier. As I reported last week, the
Prime Minister has been working with the various premiers to try to organize a
meeting of all premiers either shortly before or after Christmas.
The premiers have been canvassed — and, as I mentioned last week, several
provincial elections intervened. The Prime Minister has not refused to meet the
Premier of Quebec. He is happy to meet with the premiers.
I was happy to see that Premier Charest and Premier McGuinty of Ontario met
to discuss the very real issues between the Quebec and Ontario border. I was
also pleased to see them express their views on the future of the Senate. They
clearly have conflicting views, but the fact is we are making progress, given
that the matter is now being discussed.
Senator Rompkey: And the House of Commons.
Hon. Tommy Banks: I have a supplementary question for the Leader of
the Government. It is astonishing that people on the leader's side, who are
usually reasonably well informed, continue to believe that no progress was being
made under the Kyoto Protocol. That is not true. Even a grazing examination of
the matter will show that that statement is not true.
However, my supplementary has to do with the question originally asked by
Senator Dawson — and I think he was serious — about Senator Mitchell attending
in Bali. The previous government, and the one before that, ensured that there
were members of the opposition in attendance at these conferences. In fact, the
present Leader of the Opposition — who was at the time, as you pointed out, the
Minister of the Environment — ensured there was a member of the Conservative
Party at the Montreal conference.
What is it that has caused this government to discontinue that courtesy?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Many groups are
sending representatives to the conference in Bali, and members of the opposition
are entirely free to attend. Minister Baird will be accompanied by a number of
people. He will represent Canada, and who accompanies him is his choice, but
that does not prevent other people from attending the conference.
Insofar as the Montreal conference is concerned, I do not know whether the
individual that Senator Banks mentioned was part of the official delegation, or
attended on his own. I will check. Members of the opposition are free to attend
the conference, and I expect they will.
It was interesting that the first question MP David McGuinty asked Minister
Baird in the other place in 160-odd days was about why he was not invited on the
trip. He was worried about going on a trip rather than about substantive issues
concerning the environment.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I hope the minister will check on
that. I believe she will find that the member of the opposition was a member of
the Canadian delegation at the Montreal conference. The fact that any Canadian
can attend the meeting in Bali is not the thrust of my question. I should have
expressed more clearly that I was asking about members of the opposition as part
of the Canadian delegation. I hope that she will check and let us know whether I
am correct, as I hope I am.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I was saddened to learn that
once again this government has decided that the bottom line is more important
than the health of Canadians.
The Toronto Star recently reported that, as of March 31, 2008 —
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Milne: It is the only sensible newspaper in the country.
Senator Tkachuk: Oh, oh!
Senator Milne: The Toronto Star reported that as of March 31,
2008, the Canada Health Network will cease to exist.
The Canada Health Network is a collaboration of 26 organizations — government
departments, universities, hospitals, libraries and non-profit health providers
— that draw on 1,600 specialists across the country. It is the first of its kind
in the world. Its website has been getting 380,000 hits a month and in the last
year, its usage increased by 70 per cent. It has established a reputation as a
trustworthy source in a cyber-world of drug manufacturers, health care
conglomerates and self-promoters.
How does closing down the Canada Health Network show this government's
commitment to meeting the health needs and interests of Canadians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for that question. In response to
the reference to The Toronto Star, during the free trade debate Simon
Reisman was questioned on something that was reported in The Toronto Star,
and he yelled, " The Toronto Star? That rag? You call that a newspaper?"
With regard to Senator Milne's question, under Minister Clement, the
Department of Health has undertaken many new initiatives to service Canadians on
a host of health issues.
I will obtain a definitive answer from the Department of Health to the
senator's question on the health network. However, many programs that the
Minister of Health is engaged in reflect the new reality we face in health care.
Minister Clement is currently in China or about to go there to deal with the
serious issue of product safety. The government has committed to a number of new
programs. Simply because a program was already in place does not mean that it
must continue because this government may have better programs. In respect of
the specific question, I will take that as notice.
Senator Milne: I thank the leader for that response, although I am not
quite sure what Simon Reisman's opinion of the Toronto Star has to do
with the health of Canadians. I know that Minister Clement launched a website in
October to provide users with information about all programs of the government.
However, missing from Minister Clement's new site is any reference to links
between health and the environment, disease, poverty, violence and gun control.
In addition, the site does not touch sensitive topics such as abortion,
genetically modified foods or sexual abuse. The subject of mental illness is
completely overlooked. The Canadian Health Network looked at controversial
questions from all sides and was constantly updated as new knowledge became
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform honourable senators
as to how much the Government of Canada invested in the Canadian Health Network
on an annual basis, since it opened; and how much will be saved from the bottom
line instead of providing comprehensive and unbiased information on health care
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
Perhaps people around here are losing their sense of humour. I made a reference
to the Toronto Star because the honourable senator had made a reference
to the Toronto Star. as being the only sensible newspaper. I was trying
to inject a little humour, but I apologize for trying to be a little light on
I am surprised that the honourable senator mentioned mental health because
for years Canada was the only G8 country in the developed world that did not
have a national mental health strategy. Who was in power when that happened? As
the honourable senator knows, our former colleague, Senator Kirby, heads up the
newly established national Mental Health Commission to work with stakeholders
and the provinces to address a very serious illness that affects one in five
With regard to issues of abuse, many of these matters are dealt with by other
departments. The government sees a segment of the environment as very much a
health issue. The honourable senator has asked for specific details that I will
be happy to try to provide.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to
the presence in the gallery of a number of Canadians who are concerned about the
impact of arthritis in Canada. They join us today as part of the Alliance for
the Canadian Arthritis Program and are led by their co-chairs, Dianne Mosher and
Gordon Whitehead. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Comeau. On behalf of
all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, before we go to Orders of the Day, I have been asked by a number of
senators in the chamber as to when the Conflict of Interest Committee will
organize its activities. This is for information purposes only at this time. The
motion would have to be moved in a more formal way once we know the name of the
Could I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if she could provide
the four names, who would then seek further names to serve as the fifth member?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the four names for the Standing Committee
on Conflict of Interest for Senators are Senators Andreychuk, Angus, Carstairs
Hon. Donald H. Oliver moved second reading of Bill C-15, An Act
respecting the exploitation of the Donkin coal block and employment in or in
connection with the operation of a mine that is wholly or partly at the Donkin
coal block, and to make a consequential amendment to the Canada—Nova Scotia
Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I am very pleased today to have this
opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-15, the Donkin Coal Block Development
Opportunity Act. This is a very important day for Cape Breton and, indeed, for
all of Nova Scotia.
This legislation is about future jobs and prosperity for the region. The
Donkin undersea coal block is located offshore of Cape Breton Island.
Development of this resource has the potential to bring significant economic
benefits to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.
First, Donkin means employment, creating some 275 new jobs and up to 700
indirect jobs. Donkin also means hundreds of millions of dollars for the
provincial economy in salaries, equipment sales, and goods and services. Those
are the immediate benefits — and there is much potential for a lot more
Donkin and the economic activity that it will generate could lead to other
economic development opportunities for Cape Breton. Donkin signals the return of
an industry that was once vital to this region of Canada.
Honourable senators know of the history of coal in Cape Breton. The island
was settled largely due to coal, and coal mining provided the main livelihood
for many islanders for more than 100 years. As a result, coal mining has shaped
the culture of Cape Breton. Many Cape Bretoners today can trace mines in their
families going back decades. They are proud of their heritage and would welcome
a resurgence of coal mining in this region.
The Donkin block is part of what is called the Sydney coal field, a resource
that has made an enormous contribution to the economy of Cape Breton. It is
estimated that 450 million tons of coal was taken from the Sydney field between
1863 and the year 2000. It was the largest coal resource in Eastern Canada.
Donkin is the last block of coal that can be mined from the coast.
In December 2004, the Province of Nova Scotia issued a call for proposals to
explore the feasibility of developing this resource. A year later, Nova Scotia
announced that the Xstrata Donkin Coal Development Alliance was the successful
The company immediately launched a multi-million dollar study to evaluate the
potential for bringing a mine into production. The study is currently under way,
with a major decision point in February 2008. If all goes well, a positive
decision in mine development will take place next August.
From a resource standpoint, everything appears favourable so far. However,
for Xstrata to come to a positive decision, there is another issue that needs to
Both the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada claim
ownership and jurisdiction over the Donkin resources. This bill provides a
solution to regulatory overlap. Both the federal and the provincial governments
contend that they have legal obligations regarding matters such as regulating
resource development, and certain labour matters, including occupational health
This proposed legislation outlines the terms of an agreement between both the
federal and provincial governments that will allow the development of Donkin,
with all of the economic benefits, to proceed. This is an extraordinary example
of goodwill on the part of the federal government and the Province of Nova
Scotia. As a result, the path is now clear to move forward with the Donkin mine
if the private sector decides that the mine is a viable and profitable option.
Xstrata is looking for regulatory certainty before its February 2008 decision
date because regulatory regimes affect costs. The objective of the bill before
us, honourable senators, is to establish regulatory clarity and facilitate
economic development and to do so in a way that is acceptable to both the
federal and provincial governments.
In March 2007, federal and provincial officials agreed on an approach. That
was quickly followed by a period of federal-provincial consultation with the
public and other stakeholders. Assurances resulted and labour, community and
industry groups both understood and supported the proposed regime.
Employee and employer groups, community organizations and the Canada-Nova
Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board were all supportive and, as a result, we have a
bill that is before us that all support.
The legal framework proposed in Bill C-15 covers resource development and a
number of labour matters. These matters include labour standards, industrial
relations and occupational health and safety. The bill provides the
Governor-in-Council with the authority to make regulations that will incorporate
provincial laws within the body of federal law. Any provincial law incorporated
federally would be administered and enforced by the provincial officials. In
turn, Bill C-15 excludes corresponding federal laws from applying to the Donkin
coal block. By means of this legislation, both levels of government will be able
to work together to ensure that occupational health and safety provisions will
serve the Donkin miners well.
More specifically, Nova Scotia's Trade Union Act, the Occupational Health and
Safety Act, and the Labour Standards Code will be incorporated into a federal
statute in this bill. Nova Scotia has accepted to amend its occupational health
and safety laws to include certain elements that exist under federal law. This
is meant to provide the highest level of protection for the workers. The labour
matters covered by this bill will not in any way sacrifice the doctrine of
accountability, transparency, or health and safety for the sake of regulatory
Bill C-15 also clarifies the matter of royalties. Royalties will be collected
by the province and then remitted to the Government of Canada. The Government of
Canada will then remit an equivalent amount to Nova Scotia. When I first saw
that in the bill, I asked, "Why are they going that route?" The process seems
circular: Royalties are collected by Nova Scotia, remitted to the federal
government and then the federal government remits back to the province. The
reason for this method is that the Financial Administration Act mandates that
royalties need to be deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Therefore,
royalties must go there first. However, an equivalent amount will be sent back
to Nova Scotia by way of a cheque.
Bill C-15 provides a clear and stable regulatory system for the Donkin coal
development. It also permits both levels of government to retain their positions
with respect to ownership and regulatory jurisdiction. As all honourable
senators will see, the immediate objectives of the bill are to facilitate
provincial management of the Donkin coal block and to provide a clear regulatory
regime to govern its development.
Bill C-15 is an outstanding example of cooperation between the federal and
provincial governments to advance a common interest in seeing the development of
the Donkin block. By introducing this proposed legislation, the Government of
Canada is demonstrating its commitment to the economic development of the Cape
Breton community and to the province of Nova Scotia as a whole.
Hon. Lowell Murray: May I ask the sponsor of the bill a question?
Senator Oliver: Yes.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, when I was growing up in a mining
town in Cape Breton, there was never any doubt as to where jurisdiction lay.
Jurisdiction lay with the Province of Nova Scotia. The matters to which the
honourable senator refers were governed by a statute called the Nova Scotia Coal
Mines Regulation Act.
Does the honourable senator know why there is a federal claim of
jurisdiction? Does it have to do with the fact that the mines go out under the
ocean? Does it date back to the legal contests of the 1980s regarding offshore
Further, I did not hear mention of the environment in the honourable
senator's speech, nor does a quick glance through the bill reveal any reference
to the environment. Has an environmental impact assessment of this bill, or of
this project been undertaken? If not, when will such an assessment be done, and
will it be done under federal or provincial auspices?
Senator Oliver: Honourable senators, I said that both Nova Scotia and
the federal government claim jurisdiction over this project. Nova Scotia has
jurisdiction through labour standards codes as well as health and safety.
The federal government's claim, as the honourable senator suggested, arises
because this coal is not on land. This coal is 3.5 kilometres under the ocean.
That is the jurisdiction to which the federal government lays claim. On that
basis, the federal government believe that it does have a jurisdiction, and it
is not losing jurisdiction under this bill.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I suppose it is a point of
detail, but there were dozens of coal mines in Cape Breton that went out a
number of kilometres under the ocean. These were governed by the relevant
provincial statutes. I presume that Ottawa's claim goes back to the 1980s, when
there was a legal contest in relation to offshore matters.
Senator Oliver: The coal is located offshore of Cape Breton Island, an
area of federal resource ownership and jurisdiction. Federal laws are applicable
to the Government of Canada and it has an obligation to enforce them. The
federal government is not giving up those rights. Therefore, it negotiated with
the Province of Nova Scotia for purposes of this one project, and that is what
Bill C-15 does. This is a specific bill to deal with this particular coal mine.
Senator Murray: As the honourable senator suggested in his speech,
both Nova Scotia and Ottawa have a claim, and in the 1980s it was agreed to set
aside their legal cases and to negotiate.
Senator Oliver: The province and the federal government both have a
legal claim; I hope the honourable senator understands that that is the purpose
of this bill. Rather than take that matter to court, they say: "We have a body
of coal that can give as much as $5 million a year in royalties to the Province
of Nova Scotia. Let us do something about it now."
They came together and started the process in 2004; they entered into
extensive negotiations and have proposed to come up with one statute that
protects the rights of both the federal and provincial governments and to move
The international company that has won the right to develop this project has
stated that there is such a regulatory burden in working under this circumstance
that they want the matter cleared up before they can proceed. They are prepared
to spend millions of dollars to do so.
This bill is designed to give some regulatory certainty to the company that
is doing the development.
Senator Murray: Does the honourable senator wish to respond to my
question about the environment?
Senator Oliver: The question about the environment is something that
can be looked at when the bill goes to committee. The federal government gave a
grant of $11 million recently for research. The information that will come out
before the committee from the department is that this study will show that
virtually no environmental damage will be done as a result of the extraction of
this coal. We do not know yet what will be done with this product when it is
taken out. Will it be processed there, or will it be taken away? However,
virtually no environmental damage will be done as a result of the grant of $11
million that the federal government has given for more research and development.
Hon. Tommy Banks: May I ask a question, senator? I apologize for not
being here for your entire presentation. One of the saddest things we have ever
had to do in this place was, in effect, to put the final nail in the coffin of
the federal subsidy to the Cape Breton coal mines. That wrenching decision
needed to be made. It was decided the federal subsidy must end of an industry
that, as it was argued at the time, had no light at the end of the tunnel. We
were seen to be supporting a way of life as opposed to an industry that had any
chance of success. Is it the belief of the people who will operate this mine
that they can operate it without subsidy?
Senator Oliver: Yes, it is.
On motion of Senator Phalen, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Brown:
That the following Address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor
General of Canada:
To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Chancellor and
Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the
Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of
the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Senate of Canada
in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your
Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to
both Houses of Parliament.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I would be seriously remiss
if I were to allow the debate on the Speech from the Throne of October 16 to
conclude without commenting, at least briefly, on the critical subjects of
Arctic sovereignty and northern development. My interest in the protection and
development of the vast territories and waters that constitute Canada's Arctic
and polar regions dates back almost 50 years. I was delighted to learn that it
is now front and centre on the government's policy agenda and list of
I was an impressionable young Canadian sitting in warm June sunshine with my
family in front of Nassau Hall at Princeton University in New Jersey. We were
with my fellow members of the class of 1959, attending ceremonies marking our
graduation from this great American institution of higher learning. Can you
imagine, honourable senators, how proud I was, as a foreign student, to see
Canada's new and dynamic Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John George
Diefenbaker, rise to receive an honorary doctorate amidst glowing praise from
the university president? At that point, the audience was unprepared for what
was to follow. Our striking Prime Minister, with the wavy white hair, piercing
blue eyes and clear and captivating voice, approached the podium, and he
proceeded to deliver an old-fashioned barn-burner as our commencement address.
My classmates marvelled at Old Dief's inspirational oratory, and my heretofore
apolitical family and I became instant Tories.
Dief's words rang out and reverberated amongst the ivy-covered buildings of
the Princeton campus:
Ah, yes, my friends, I think of a vast program on Frobisher Bay on Baffin
Island in the Canadian Arctic, hiding resources that Canadians have little
We have started a vast roads program for the Yukon and Northwest
Territories which will open up for exploration vast new oil and mineral
areas — ah, yes, thirty million acres. We have launched a seventy-five
million dollar federal-provincial program to build access roads. This is the
Vision . . . our northern vision. We are fulfilling the vision and the dream
of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. But Sir John saw
Canada from East to West. I see a new Canada. A Canada of The North! We have
plans to carry out a legislative program of Arctic research, to develop
Arctic roots, to develop vast hidden resources.
It was vintage Dief. He rambled on and on, with his audience, everyone,
paying rapt attention to each and every word. I was totally sold by the time he
had finished and had later shaken my hand, along with those of several other
Canadian graduates. I could not wait to go home to Canada to join what he called
the YPCs — Young Progressive Conservatives. He said, "Young man, you will help
tame the wilderness that had always whispered to the Nation's adventurers."
Honourable senators, my political stripe was firmly and forever established that
Honourable senators, much has happened during the intervening half century.
We have awakened to the fact that mankind has systematically damaged the earth's
atmosphere and its natural surroundings. We became sensitive to the critical
need to protect our environment — our air, our water and our ecologically
sensitive lands. We became more and more aware of the challenges posed by the
rugged and often extremely unfriendly northern terrain. We woke up to the
rights, the needs and the aspirations of our Aboriginal peoples, including the
Inuit and others living in the North. We lived through repeated versions of
energy crises, and we became more and more aware of the value of the undeveloped
oil and gas resources and rich mineral deposits in the North. We have become
more and more sensitive to and concerned about national security issues,
including the menace of terrorism, and how important it is to our national
strength, security, and well-being that Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic
regions be well established, confirmed and recognized by the international
Perhaps, honourable senators, most important of all, we have come to believe
and understand that major climate change is taking place, with both negative and
positive results, especially in the Arctic and the polar regions, where the
icecap and glaciers have been receding and melting with profound effects on the
human and animal population of the North and elsewhere. This morning in The
Globe and Mail we read about the plight of the polar bears. Two-thirds of
this generation of polar bears in our North are becoming extinct. This list goes
on and on, whether it is the fish or other sea species so important to the
livelihood and the ecology of the North.
The Harper government sees these developments as critical, none more so than
the opening up or thawing of the Northwest Passage at an accelerating rate, with
far-reaching potential effects on international trade and shipping. It also
raises thorny geopolitical issues with commercial, military and sovereignty
As well, as Peter C. Newman chronicled so fascinatingly in his book,
Renegade in Power, more was accomplished in the Canadian North during the
five Diefenbaker years than in any previous period of the nation's history up to
that time. Sadly, the results never came within a light-year of the expectation
aroused by Dief's exciting "Northern Vision" as expressed repeatedly during
the 1958 general election campaign and subsequently.
Much was accomplished, especially with Dief's Roads to Resources Program.
There can be little doubt that the future viability of oil and gas development
in the North benefitted greatly from the vision. The non-fulfillment of the
vision, however, had many causes, political and otherwise. As Newman wrote,
The real trouble was, rather, in the character of the North itself.
Political rhetoric, no matter how inspired, could work little magic in that
inhospitable barren land.
Honourable senators can imagine how pleased I was to hear our elegant and
inspiring young Governor General here in this chamber on October 16 state,
inter alia, about our North:
But the North needs new attention. New opportunities are emerging across
the Arctic, and new challenges from other shores. Our Government will bring
forward an integrated northern strategy focused on strengthening Canada's
sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and
social development, and improving and devolving governance, so that
northerners have greater control over their destinies.
Honourable senators, rarely have I read or heard such a non-controversial or
non-partisan statement of public policy, with objectives that, at least on their
face, appear universally acceptable to all Canadians. Hopefully, we can all
agree to actively support and promote this critical northern development and
Arctic sovereignty aspect of the government's agenda.
Yes, honourable senators, these proposals are very ambitious and, yes, they
will be very costly to implement, but surely the short- and long-term benefits
for Canada at large, for our northern inhabitants in particular and for our
future generations are obvious.
I suggest, honourable senators, that we are facing here a no-brainer. I urge
us all to get behind and enthusiastically support the proposed initiatives to,
first, establish and have confirmed and recognized internationally, once and for
all, our sovereignty in the Arctic, and especially over the Northwest Passage —
and, honourable senators, as Prime Minister Harper has said repeatedly, we must
use it, and we cannot afford to lose it; second, to improve living conditions in
the North for First Nations and Inuit through better housing; third, to build a
world-class Arctic research station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic
issues, including environmental science and resource development — a research
station built in the Arctic by and for Canadians but also to serve the global
community; fourth, to complete the comprehensive mapping of Canada's Arctic
seabed; fifth, to build eight new Arctic patrol ships to complement increased
aerial surveillance in guarding Canada's Far North, including the Northwest
Passage; sixth, expanding the size and capabilities of the Arctic Rangers so
they can better patrol our vast Arctic territory; seventh, the development of an
Arctic warfare training centre and the deployment on an ongoing basis of at
least 1,000 Canadian soldiers in the Arctic; and finally, the construction of a
modern state-of-the-art and fully equipped deepwater port at Nanisivik on
northern Baffin Island. Nanisivik is already a functioning port and is ideally
located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The plan is to invest
approximately $100 million to upgrade this potentially great Arctic port and to
have it fully operational by 2015, if not sooner.
Honourable senators, there are various complicated issues of international
law that bear upon whether Canada's sovereignty claims in the Arctic are in all
respects valid. I shall not go into the details of these today, but they are
important and interesting and I shall revert to them on another occasion. There
is no doubt that Canada's arguments are strong and, in most cases
incontrovertible, but in some aspects of our claims doubt does exist. I submit
that it is critical to our nation's future well-being, to our ongoing national
security and prosperity, that these doubts be dispelled without delay. We must
do all possible to establish that the Northwest Passage constitutes an historic,
internal Canadian waterway — those words have legal, special meaning — a claim
disputed by the Americans, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Russians and several
We can all remember, honourable senators, the embarrassing and provocative
cases of the U.S. supertanker and ice-strengthened Manhattan in its
voyages of 1967 through 1970, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Polar
Sea, which, in 1985, transited the Northwest Passage without even asking
We need to convince the international community of the legal validity of our
Arctic sovereignty claims. This is urgent and critical. The government's
proposed integrated northern strategy will go a long way to help us accomplish
Furthermore, as Franklyn Griffiths wrote in his 1987 book, Politics of the
Northwest Passage — and I quote:
. . . latent attachments to the Passage and to the Arctic spaces it
represents are lodged deep in Canadians' conceptions of themselves as a
Honourable senators, the Speech from the Throne describes a new northern
vision for Canada. Let us ensure that it is realized and does not become but a
mirage. Please let us all unanimously support the government's new integrated
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: I should like to ask a question of
Senator Angus. My question refers to the new northern Arctic strategy. In 1987,
the Conservative government issued a White Paper on Defence, entitled
Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada. That paper called for
an Arctic base, in fact an Arctic base of significance, tri-service. It
discussed the creation of a permanent force out of the rangers, in order to
improve their capabilities. That white paper discussed an upgrade of the Aurora
aircraft, to provide more surveillance. The defence white paper also talked
about nuclear-powered submarines to provide subsurface surveillance. It talked
about the possibility of nuclear-powered icebreakers and even a circumpolar
alliance in order to establish our presence there and to create a synergy
between the enormous background that the Russians have in the Arctic and our
still-steep learning curve.
The only problem with all of that is that the same government put no cash
behind it, and the whole thing crashed in 1989.
What tells the honourable senator that we will have more than a vision or pie
in the sky? Does Senator Angus believe that his government will invest tens of
billions of dollars to make that vision a reality?
Senator Angus: I thank the honourable senator for that question. I
know amongst my colleagues in this chamber there are few who know as much as he
does about this subject. I am sure he will agree with me and share my hopes that
we can indeed place our confidence in my leader, the great Prime Minister
Stephen Harper, who has undertaken to put this northern integrated strategy in
place and to seek from Parliament the authority to spend the monies needed to
accomplish these ends, which are so critical to our well-being.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, it is an honour for me to speak last today and join in the comments on
the Speech from the Throne.
Because I am a practising Catholic, I would like to quote from the Bible, in
the book of Proverbs, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." These
words are also inscribed on the Peace Tower in Ottawa and, unfortunately, their
spirit imbues the Conservative government's latest Speech from the Throne from
start to finish.
Given that the clash of ideas and views is the lifeblood of Parliament — and
democracy itself — I am glad to have this opportunity to comment on and
criticize the government's Speech from the Throne, which opened the current
session on October 16.
First of all, since it is customary to recognize the participation and
contribution of the mover and seconder, I must congratulate Senators Comeau and
Brown for their eloquent and passionate support for the government's action
plan. Even though we do not share all their conclusions and their certainty in
this regard, we remain convinced that these two senators do credit to this
chamber and serve it with energy, talent and conviction.
I wish to commend as well Governor General Michaëlle Jean for her grace,
dignity and eloquence in delivering the Speech from the Throne. She inspires us
all and she is an outstanding model of the contribution immigrant women make to
this country — a theme we had occasion to celebrate in October during Women's
Honourable senators, barely five weeks ago, the Conservative government
presented its action plan for the coming session. Stating the objectives of a
better, stronger, more secure Canada and five major priorities for achieving
those objectives, the government delivered a program that unfortunately lacks
inspiration, vision and daring.
For a government, a Throne Speech is supposed to be an opportunity to rally
Canadians around a common enterprise, to inspire them to greatness, to instil in
them a new and greater national pride, in short, to remind them of where they
come from, who they are and, most importantly, all they can do and be.
Although all our fellow citizens would like to continue to build a better
Canada, to use the government's expression, this action plan does not go far
enough to help them make Canada a world leader in such matters as the
environment, the economy or social justice. This is a narrow program with a
short-term vision, focused exclusively on an electoral deadline; in short, a
patchwork of tired refrains, broken promises and wilted pages from an old
From the last Throne Speech's empty promises, allow me to underline the
government's failure to come through on its child care commitments. Surely, my
colleagues will remember that the government had promised to create 125,000 new
spaces in its 2006 action plan. Unfortunately, in late September of this year,
the minister responsible confirmed that the government could not deliver on that
commitment. Instead of addressing the issue with resolve and maturity, the
minister threw up his arms, admitted defeat and blamed the provinces. Such a
lethargic and faint-hearted approach makes me wonder whether the government
realizes that Canadian families in some cities are forced to wait an average of
two years before securing a public child care space. Instead of squabbling with
the provinces, the minister should start being a little more creative in
determining how his government will keep its promise. In doing so, he might
begin by drawing inspiration from the previous Liberal government's national
early learning system.
Honourable senators, from the shortcomings of the last Speech from the
Throne, I will now turn to those in the current one, which is a five-point
program featuring federal reforms, tax cuts, crime, environment and national
Since the government's intended reform of our federation will directly affect
this chamber, I will address that issue first.
Over the past few weeks, the government has spelled out its commitments on
this by presenting the two bills on Senate reform from the last session. This
shows the government's insensitivity and irresponsibility and its disdain for
The purpose of the Senate is to ensure balance between the regions of Canada
and to represent the interests of the provinces. Instead of involving the
provinces in its reform plans, the government is excluding them and instead of
listening to the views expressed by many of the premiers, it is ignoring them.
Let us remember that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs concluded, in June of this year, that Bill S-4 would
raise a number of constitutional concerns if passed without any consultation
with the provinces. Given the scope of the challenges, we came to the conclusion
that Bill S-4 should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Instead of respecting the provinces and benefiting from the wisdom of the
constitutional experts who testified before our committees, the government has
shown that it did not hear a thing and does not want to hear a thing. It came
back with half-baked legislative measures that will allow any prime minister who
wins two consecutive elections to appoint every senator. These measures will
create an electoral illusion, smoke and mirrors meant to calm certain elements
of the Conservative Party, but certainly not the Canadian public.
Moreover, by giving parliamentarians an ultimatum to reform the Senate, and
threatening to abolish it if they do not, by refusing to bring in the provinces,
the Prime Minister is playing a game of bulldozer federalism.
Honourable senators, the official opposition will support a reform of the
Senate that is based on sound political principles, respects the Constitution
and encourages provincial participation. Unfortunately, the government is coming
back with a flawed and improvised proposal that is sorely lacking in
In addition to reforming the Senate, the government is also committed to
restraining the federal spending power, as it relates to new programs in federal
jurisdictions. I am going to comment on this issue by adding my voice to that of
Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion.
The wording used in the Speech from the Throne regarding the federal spending
power is more limited in scope than the current framework for this power, under
the 1996 social union agreement that was signed by all the provinces. This is
particularly true considering that the new wording only applies to cost-shared
programs, which have become almost non-existent.
The global agreement had a broader scope that included all types of transfers
to the provinces. That agreement not only specified that the support of a
majority of provinces was required to implement any Canada-wide initiative, it
also recognized that the federal government could not establish programs on its
Before pushing this issue further, the government should assemble the
provincial premiers, as it also should regarding its Senate reform proposal.
Honourable senators, besides Senate renewal, the Speech from the Throne also
contains proposals pertaining to tax cuts and the economy. While the government
has promised to provide economic leadership and a prosperous future for us all,
the means it has proposed to do so fall short of the mark. In fact, its promised
cut to the GST is a prime example of the short-term policies of a government
focused only on the next election.
In its Report on Business at the end of October, The Globe and Mail
reported a very wide consensus among Canadian economists that the Conservative
government's proposal to reduce the GST was flawed. Also, an OECD report
published in October indicates that the preferred approach in that regard should
be to maintain the consumption tax and reduce personal and corporate taxes.
Based on that study, any reduction in personal and corporate income tax tends to
stimulate economies and the investments necessary to increase our productivity,
enhance our competitiveness and improve our living conditions.
The government's wrong-headed, opportunistic and election-minded GST cut
points to another shocking failure in the Throne Speech's economic proposal: its
total lack of an action plan for dealing with poverty and homelessness.
In Canada today, nearly 3 million families, over half a million seniors and
more than 1 million children live in poverty, while some 300,000 people remain
homeless. That is a bleak picture made even darker by the latest World Bank
figures underlining that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country
has reached Third World proportions. Yet, all the Speech from the Throne offers
to repair this tattered social fabric are a few bland statements and a handful
of wishy-washy commitments. Moreover, last night's report on poverty in the
largest city of Canada, Toronto, presented clear evidence of this government's
lack of concern for reducing poverty.
Progress should not be measured by how much we add to the prosperity of the
wealthy, but rather by how we meet the essential needs of the less fortunate. By
failing to provide measures that would lay the foundations for real progress in
that respect, the government is shirking its ultimate responsibility to ensure
the well-being of every citizen. The government must change course, and should
it need guidance, it could leaf through the plan to combat poverty developed by
the Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion.
Honourable senators, joining poverty on the list of topics short-changed by
the Speech from the Throne is the environment. Although the government deserves
credit for expanding the Nahanni National Park Reserve, it gets failing grades
when it comes to protecting our ecosystem and fighting climate change.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to organize and lead a consultation tour
throughout Quebec's 14 regions. Honourable senators, the people in my province
are very worried about this problem and expect the government to come up with
serious solutions to it.
However, instead of offering strong protective measures, reasonable targets
and a clear plan, the government settles for soaring rhetoric, claiming the
targets it has set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are among the most
aggressive in the world. Yet, the Deutsche Bank has said that the current
approach will most likely ensure that Canada's greenhouse gases will continue to
rise until 2020. The same bank also noted that the Canadian government seriously
exaggerated the costs of complying with Kyoto.
Although the Speech from the Throne commits to bringing forward elements of
the clean air legislation from the previous session, that will not be nearly
enough to combat global warming.
A scientific panel of the United Nations has said that to avoid the most
serious effects of climate change, countries like Canada must reduce their
emissions by 25 per cent to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
Unfortunately, Canada is among the few countries that have chosen to ignore UN
warnings to set targets to ensure global warming stays below those levels. Even
if the government reaches its own targets, our emissions will remain above the
mark set for us by international experts. Moreover, the government's solution to
all this — its very own climate change plan — has been criticized as unworkable
by seven major independent organizations, including the National Energy Board
and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
The government seems unable to heed such advice or entertain opposing views
on this or any other issue. Last week, the Minister of the Environment excluded
opposition members from Canada's official delegation to the upcoming United
Nations conference on climate change in Bali. I hope that today the Leader of
the Government in the Senate will recognize, reconsider and recommend the
participation of Senator Mitchell and others who have an extensive knowledge on
environmental matters to attend this conference with the government. This
shameful practice of exclusion started last year when the Conservatives banned
various stakeholders and organizations from attending the UN conference.
Honourable senators, as proof that the Conservatives are working behind the
scenes to sabotage any international climate change progress, I would like to
mention the following: last Friday, out of the 53 Commonwealth countries, only
Canada and Australia refused to sign a final declaration to fight climate
change, whose goal was to present a united Commonwealth front in preparation for
the Bali conference. We should note that with last Saturday's election of a new,
more environmentally friendly government in Australia, Canada now stands alone
on this issue among Commonwealth countries.
We must put a stop to these backroom antics. Climate change is the most
pressing global issue of our time, and we must work together to address it. The
government must take action, adopt a more cooperative attitude and go back to
the drawing board. It must replace its weak approach with a real action plan to
help meet our Kyoto commitment, a piece of legislation adopted by this
Honourable senators, from devising unworkable plans and engaging in backroom
dealings on the environment, the government has resorted to using smoke and
mirrors to hide its tracks on the criminal justice and security file issue to
which I will now turn.
The linchpin of the government's Throne Speech proposal in this regard, the
so-called "tackling crime bill," basically rejigs five bills from the last
session into omnibus legislation, boldly stating that Bill C-2 would be a matter
of confidence. The Prime Minister claimed the bill would deal firmly with crime.
He explained it would ensure stiffer sentencing for gun crime, provide stricter
bail requirements for accused gun criminals, keep dangerous offenders behind
bars and crack down on drunk drivers. The bill is a matter of confidence, he
said, because it is a key part of his program, adding that the opposition has no
reason to delay since it had campaigned in support of its principles and had
wasted enough time studying the matter anyway.
Lamenting that much of his crime legislation from the last session had not
passed, the Prime Minister accused the Liberals of obstructing his bill. He
failed to mention, however, that his government delayed its own legislation by
repeatedly turning down opposition offers to fast-track those bills.
Honourable senators, I would like to go over a few facts. In 2006, after its
first Speech from the Throne, the government introduced 13 crime bills. The
official opposition supported 10 of these. But instead of accepting our offer to
fast-track them, the Conservatives chose to let six of their bills die on the
Order Paper and Notice Paper and then accuse us of obstruction. Also,
as more proof of its desire to pass these bills, the official opposition
suggested that all the parties agree to deem Bill C-2 read the second time and,
consequently immediately refer it to a committee. We hope that the government
will show good faith and prove to be more cooperative this session.
Honourable senators, from examining the government's backroom manoeuvring on
the environment and refuting its claim that the opposition was stalling crime
legislation, we now turn to the ambiguity in the Speech from the Throne in
regard to Afghanistan.
The government claims that it wants to take a responsible and effective
approach in Afghanistan, yet all it will say is that it wants to let Parliament
decide what will become of the mission after 2009. The government has indicated
that it would prefer to prolong the mission until 2011, and that the primary
goal should be to train Afghan security forces, but it has not said whether its
plan includes a combat mission. In order to buy time while refusing to reveal
its real game plan, the government has asked Mr. Manley's working group to study
four possible scenarios and come up with recommendations. It seems silly to ask
the group to study these four options when the government has already indicated
its preference for one of them, namely accelerated training for Afghanistan's
police and army.
At any rate, the official opposition believes that the government should show
greater transparency and leadership on this issue. It should inform NATO and the
Afghan government immediately that our combat mission in Kandahar will end in
February 2009. That would ensure that arrangements could be made for replacement
forces and would enable Canada to determine how best to help with reconstruction
Honourable senators, although I have focused on the shortcomings of the
Throne Speech up to this point, I wish to underline that there are some positive
aspects to it, including the government's plan to broaden the scope for the
action plan for official languages. As well, we are heartened by the
government's commitment to assert Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic by building
a world-class research centre, mapping the Arctic sea bed and expanding aerial
surveillance. We also look favourably on the government's commitment to Haiti
and to provide better support for veterans. Moreover, while there are many other
aspects of the Throne Speech I could comment on, both good and bad, I will wrap
up with a few general observations arguing that the government fell short of the
Honourable senators, our fellow citizens were hoping that their government
would restore Canada's international reputation, ensure a prosperous future,
clean up the environment and maintain public order via a flexible, effective and
workable justice system. Even though the government stated these very objectives
in its Speech from the Throne, it has failed to put forward a single measure,
vision or approach that might rally, inspire or excite Canadians.
The speech was nothing more than a rough draft made up of assorted notes, a
few rudimentary ideas, and some vague commitments. I would like to remind the
government that we are still waiting for it to commit to helping the
manufacturing sector in Ontario and the rest of Canada. We hope that this
government will address some of the real problems affecting Canadians rather
than start its election campaign early.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I rise to address the Speech from the
Throne that was delivered by Her Excellency the Governor General in this chamber
on October 16. At the outset, I acknowledge and thank my colleagues, my
seatmate, Senator Comeau, and our newest senator, Senator Brown, for moving and
seconding the Speech from the Throne in this chamber.
As honourable senators will recall, the speech set out the government's plan
and outlined the overall direction of Her Majesty's Canadian government for the
coming session of Parliament.
We are fortunate in this country to enjoy peace, order and good government. I
say this with the expectation that there would be objections expressed by some
honourable senators — thank you, Senator Cools — however, I am confident that
even they realize that as the third-oldest continuous democracy in the world we
enjoy great freedom and liberty. One only has to look at the turmoil ripping
apart countries such as Pakistan and Zimbabwe to realize that we are truly
blessed. This blessing has come both in terms of our institutions and the
representatives of the populace, some of whom are more effective than others.
Nevertheless, we are a very fortunate country. As Her Excellency said in her
speech, "Canada is the greatest country in the world."
However, we must not become complacent and simply allow certain dysfunctional
institutions to tick along without proper attention. Nowhere is this more
evident than in the upper chamber. Our government is seeking to provide
Canadians with a more democratic upper house, something that has been on the
minds of citizens practically since Confederation. Yet, for a variety of complex
reasons, from patronage and partisanship to ignorance and indifference, change
has rarely been addressed in such a meaningful and constructive way.
Another area of concern is the declining voter turnout that has been a fact
of political life over the past few decades. This is an issue that I will
address further in my speech, for it is one that strikes at the very root of our
democracy and our democratic system and the enjoyment of freedom and liberty
from sea to sea to sea.
As Her Excellency mentioned, this year we marked the fiftieth anniversary of
the occasion when Her Majesty the Queen became the first reigning sovereign to
open our Parliament. The image of Her Majesty and Prince Philip sitting at the
front of this chamber, accompanied by the Right Honourable John George
Diefenbaker is one familiar to many Canadians, and certainly one that I remember
This year also marks the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the
Order of Canada. Indeed, the first investiture was held 40 years ago this very
week. Again, we are reminded of the dynamic nature of our country and its
citizenry, a dynamism that our government seeks to further enhance.
The Speech from the Throne provides an occasion to reflect upon not only our
history, but also the recent achievements of our government and the plan that we
have set forward for the future. This plan will help to improve the well-being
of all Canadians through the lowering of the tax burden, a more stringent and
effective Criminal Code, a realistic plan for the preservation of our natural
environment, improvement of our parliamentary institutions and an overall
economic policy that will continue to promote growth and stability. The overall
theme of the Speech from the Throne that opened the second session of our
current Parliament is "Strong Leadership. A Better Canada."
Our country has been built through imagination and dynamism that has brought
people together from around the globe at different times. Citizens expect their
government to build upon this legacy of innovation and progress and to provide a
framework within which they can reach their full potential, particularly as my
colleague Senator Angus focused on Canada's North.
Canada's North has long played an important role in defining who we are as
Canadians. Our government is taking bold steps to protect Canadian sovereignty
and to better utilize the opportunities that the Canadian Arctic holds.
Through the establishment of a world-class Arctic research station that will
focus on environmental science and resource development, we are enhancing
Canada's place as a leading Arctic country.
We have long known that the truism "use it or lose it" has great relevance
to the North, and we are listening to First Nations and Inuit who have long
called for a more comprehensive plan to protect our Arctic territory, its
environment and its resources.
During the Second World War, the St. Roch, a Royal Canadian Mounted
Police patrol boat, sailed the waters of our North to protect them from unwanted
incursions, proclaiming to the world that this region is an integral part of
Canada. We will continue not only to proclaim our sovereignty, but also to make
it felt. Although different in landscape and climate from other parts of Canada,
the North is as much a part of our country as British Columbia or Prince Edward
Simply put, honourable senators, protecting our Arctic is one of the most
significant priorities of our government. Through a dynamic and multi-faceted
plan, our government is working to realize the opportunities the Arctic offers.
Through protecting our environmental heritage while promoting social and
economic development, we will also be giving the citizens in the territories
more control over their affairs and collective destiny within the Canadian
Who better to safeguard Canada's North than those who reside there? We owe a
sacred duty to the people of the Arctic and the Fathers of Confederation, such
as Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Oliver Mowat, who envisaged the Dominion of
Canada that extended to the Far North.
The Arctic is certainly not of passing interest to this government. As
announced in the Speech from the Throne, we will further assert our sovereignty
in the Arctic through a comprehensive mapping of Canada's Arctic seabed, a
project that has long been required.
Shortly after the opening of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth
Parliament, our government announced that it would save the Canadian Map Office,
which was slated for closure by the previous government. Canadians know that
this government is serious about preserving and enhancing our sovereignty.
Without modern maps and access to them, we cannot comprehend exactly over what
we have sovereignty.
An integral part of protecting our sovereignty is the rebuilding of the
Canadian Forces after more than a decade of neglect. We place a great value on
the services and sacrifices made by the men and women who serve as members of
Her Majesty's Canadian Forces. These citizens play a central role in
safeguarding Canada and ensuring that we can play a positive role on the
Our government has invested heavily in the Canadian Forces, providing members
with the modern equipment and supplies they require to discharge their duty.
When a person becomes a member of the Canadian Forces, there is an implicit
agreement between the individual and the government that the individual will
defend Canada and its interests and that the government will provide that
individual with the proper resources necessary to discharge that crucial duty.
We are fulfilling our obligations in this regard more than ever. No more will we
be sending soldiers into the field with improper equipment.
Canada has returned as a credible player to the international stage. Too
often, the previous government merely reflected upon the great achievements that
Canada attained in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, without realizing that a constant
effort has to be made to maintain our influence in the world. To be taken
seriously as an independent country, we cannot simply rest on the laurels of
past achievements. Pearson's Nobel Peace Price and Diefenbaker's historic stand
on racial equality and the need to end apartheid mean little if we do not
continue to promote our values overseas.
Our government will continue to seize opportunities to play a positive and
constructive role on the international stage. Through the United Nations, the
Commonwealth, la Francophonie and other multilateral and bilateral groups,
Canada can play an increasingly positive role in the world, both next door and
across the globe.
Cooperating with other countries that share our values of freedom, human
rights, democracy and the rule of law, Canada is once again playing a key role
as an international leader. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our
commitment to the United Nations sanctioned mission in Afghanistan. Canada and
our allies are bringing hope to the people of Afghanistan where there was
previously only despair and tragedy.
Canadians understand that this has come at a tremendous cost to our own
people. Where would we be today if our ancestors had run away from defending
Lundy's Lane or been absent from the liberation of Europe in 1944 and 1945? It
is not part of our identity to abandon people in need and scurry away to become
nothing more than willing collaborators.
Our commitment to constitutional democracy with economic openness, a social
safety net, equitable wealth creation and sharing across regions allows us to
help less fortunate countries, such as Haiti. As Haitians strive towards
achieving a more equitable and democratic society, they are able to not only
look at Canada as an example, but also see Canadians in their own
neighbourhoods, helping them to realize the potential of their country.
In the coming year, we will mark the four hundredth anniversary of the
establishment of Quebec City and the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
establishment of representative government in Nova Scotia. No political system
is without flaws, and ours continues to contain some significant anomalies.
The history of our institutions is one of innovation and modification. We
have a long tradition of taking institutions with ancient roots and making them
more relevant, functional and open to Canadians. That is the story of the birth
and the flourishing of Canadian democracy that began almost 250 years ago in
In the field of Senate reform, our government has reintroduced legislation
that addresses the issue of tenure and senator appointments. Indeed, it is
comical to listen to the protests and cries from the other side of this chamber.
What we often forget is that at one time, Canada possessed an elected upper
house. The Legislative Council of the Province of Canada was an elected body
from 1856 to 1862, with councillors serving — get this, honourable senators —
Senator Segal: Hear, hear!
Senator Comeau: Ah-ha, now it comes out.
Senator LeBreton: We have had more than a century of discussion about
Senate reform, and few other issues in Canadian political history have been so
persistent. While electing members of our upper house is not something that any
of us remember, it is not foreign to our tradition of government. This reform is
not a case of change for the sake of change, but rather change for the sake of
opening government to Canadians.
In terms of the proposed length of Senate tenure, it is funny to hear some
honourable senators complain that eight years is not enough, especially when one
considers that, over the years, a number of our colleagues were appointed at the
tender age of 68 or 71, and were only able to serve four to six years in this
chamber. Yet this tenure did not prevent them from making a meaningful
contribution. One has only to look at former senators such as Eugene Forsey or
Dr. Yves Morin to realize that a senator's ability to contribute is related more
to the senator's own predisposition to become fully engaged in the work of the
Senate than to have been given the opportunity to languish in the Red Chamber
for decades at a time.
Some senators have reflected on the fact that Senate tenure was one of the
principles laid down by the Fathers of Confederation, as I heard an honourable
senator say a few moments ago. This information is true, but the Fathers of
Confederation also envisaged a body that would be populated, in perpetuity,
solely by White males of a certain economic status. Oh, how far we have
travelled and yet how far we still need to go. To continue this analogy, this
further distance will be traversed through our bill on Senate tenure and our
bill that will consult the Canadian people on the appointment of senators.
Our interest in enhancing our democratic structures is not limited simply to
Senate reform, but will also be achieved through offering voters expanded
opportunities to cast a ballot, and through safeguarding our electoral system
from fraud through the requirement of visually identifying each elector.
We are also committed to providing better living conditions to the Inuit and
First Nations people through better housing. In addition to this commitment, we
will work to improve the conditions of Canada's Inuit and First Nations
communities. In particular, we have introduced legislation that will guarantee
that persons living on reserves will have the same protections and rights that
other Canadians enjoy under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is time to pass
this legislation. We are also dealing with specific claims, and bringing
expediency and fairness to the existing claims process. This initiative will
address a number of long-standing issues and further improve the lives of many
Our government believes passionately that the various watertight compartments
of the Canadian federation — the various jurisdictions — must be respected to
foster a more effective federal union; one built on each level respecting not
only the responsibilities of each other, but the needs of the citizens within
their particular jurisdiction.
We will continue to strengthen Canada's economic union. It is incredible to
think that Canada is still riddled with interprovincial trade barriers. These
have been in place far too long. It is unacceptable that it is often easier to
sell a product to a foreign country than it is to sell it to a neighbouring
province. These artificial barriers must come down. By improving interprovincial
trade we can better realize the full potential of our economy, and also improve
our productivity and ability to compete in international markets.
Through Advantage Canada, we have set out a sensible economic plan to ensure
solid growth into the future and provided conditions that place Canadians in a
better position to attain better-paying jobs.
The continuing program of tax reductions is already helping the Canadian
economy to excel. The cuts in the Goods and Services Tax, reduction in personal
and business taxes, will play a key part in enhancing our ability to compete.
Honourable senators, in the area of health and environment, our government
will continue its dedication to promoting and improving the health of all
Canadians. Most will recall Prime Minister Harper's announcement of the creation
of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. This commission addresses an issue
that no federal government had previously dealt with in a meaningful way. It was
the persistent orphan of the Canadian health care system. Our government acted
upon the recommendations of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology and created a body that will help facilitate a more open
and coherent metal health strategy across the country. The one in five Canadians
that will suffer from a serious mental illness over the course of their lives
will no longer be pushed into the shadows. This once voiceless group has been
given a place on the national stage by this government, and I am happy that our
former colleague, Michael Kirby, agreed to take this body on.
Further evidence of the dynamic and innovative approach that we have taken,
not only in the field of health care but in the government as a whole, is an
area that is near and dear to me, and that is seniors. Because seniors invested
in Canada, our government is investing in seniors by listening and helping them
gain access to benefits and services they are entitled to. They deserve no less.
We have already made great advances in improving services to Canadian
seniors. We have increased Service Canada points of service throughout the
country, enhanced mobile services for seniors, placed inserts in major daily and
weekly newspapers about important news regarding Canada Pension Plan and Old Age
Security, and contacted seniors directly to let them know about the benefits
available to them.
Our government will continue to fight for seniors. We have achieved much in
this area already through the establishment of the National Seniors Council. The
council's mandate is to advise the government on issues of national importance
to Canadian seniors. Few things better demonstrate our openness to positive
change than involving people at the grassroots, such as the seniors council is
doing. The council is helping to ensure that our government's policies, programs
and services meet the evolving needs of seniors and the challenges Canada faces
as a result of our rapidly growing and aging population.
Honourable senators, in the area of crime and crime prevention, through the
safer communities strategy, our government will continue to make our communities
safer places in which to work, play and grow.
On a personal note, you will not be surprised that I must express my delight
at the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, which better define impaired
The federal government is offering resources that will facilitate the
recruitment of 2,500 more police officers. This initiative will help to ensure
safer communities and that those who commit offences face the appropriate
punishment for their crimes. The bill tackling violent crime will help update
the Criminal Code and protect Canadians.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, it is not surprising that some honourable
senators have used the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne not as a
time to reflect upon the serious and weighty matters dealt with by the
government in a constructive way, but rather as an opportunity to spew unfounded
statements that reveal their failure to digest the speech. Instead, they merely
checked a few websites and blogs for opinions and talking points. Like
pre-programmed automatons, some honourable senators opposite continue to have
great difficulty in accepting that they are no longer in power. Our government
is striving and succeeding in building a better Canada through strong leadership
and innovative policies.
The propensity of members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the other
place simply to sit on their hands when it comes time to vote on important
matters of state is further evidence of how unfit they are to govern.
Honourable senators, I believe the plan of our government, set out by Her
Excellency, is one that will bring a better existence to Canadians, greater
prosperity, a cleaner environment and a better future for all.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
Motion agreed to and Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne adopted,
On motion of the Honourable Senator Comeau, ordered that the Address be
engrossed and presented to Her Excellency the Governor General by the Honourable
Hon. John G. Bryden moved third reading of Bill S-203, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).—(Honourable Senator Bryden)
He said: I will be brief, as honourable senators have come to expect.
I want to thank all honourable senators and, in particular, the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, for the careful but urgent
consideration that has brought Bill S-203 to this stage. Bill S-203 is
identical to, and in the same form as, its predecessor, Bill S-213, which had
reached committee stage after second reading in the House of Commons at the time
of prorogation of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.
If Bill S-203 passes third reading today, it will be sent to the House of
Commons, where I believe it will be found to meet all the requirements of
Standing Order 86.2(1) to have Bill S-203 referred to the House of Commons
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which can then hold hearings,
call witnesses and report the bill back to the House, with or without
amendments, for third reading.
I ask honourable senators to support Bill S-203.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I did not support Bill
S-213 and I will not support Bill S-203. I wish I could speak positively about
this bill but I cannot because it is such a tepid piece of proposed legislation.
In my view, it does not in any way meet the needs of animals in this country.
There is far too much cruelty to animals in Canada. Interestingly enough,
honourable senators, studies have shown a clear correlation between those who
act in a cruel manner to their animals and the way in which they treat their
fellow human beings, in particular, children, women and other vulnerable
persons. To accept less than what I believe we could have is anathema to me.
Honourable senators, I am a realist in politics. If we support this bill and
it passes, it is highly unlikely that a stronger bill will come to us in the
near future. I am well aware that a private member's bill has been introduced in
the House by Mark Holland, MP, which is a stronger piece of proposed
legislation. However, there will be little political will in either House to
deal with a second bill on animal cruelty in the same session.
Honourable senators, I believe that one should not accept half a loaf when
one could have a whole loaf. I will vote against this bill because it is
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Carstairs: On division.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cochrane,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Keon, for the second reading of Bill
S-220, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: I am happy to inform honourable senators that I
support the designation of a special week in June each year as national blood
donor week. Thousands of Canadians require blood or blood products for
themselves or a family member, but less than 4 per cent of eligible Canadians
donate every year. We must work to see this change. A national blood donor week
will raise awareness of the importance of voluntary blood donation, and will
encourage more people to become regular blood donors. In addition, it will be a
time to thank those individuals who already selflessly donate blood.
The creation of a national blood donor week coincides with the World Health
Organization's World Blood Donor Day. The June date is in honour of the June 14
birthday of Karl Landsteiner, discoverer of the ABO blood group system. The day
is supported by three major organizations working for voluntary non-remunerated
blood donation: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies; the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations; and the
International Society of Blood Transfusion.
Bill S-220 lets Canada join in the international efforts with a full week of
celebration. The majority of the world's population do not have access to safe
blood. Canada's national blood donor week, along with World Blood Donor Day,
will focus attention on the needs of those countries with less developed
services. In Canada, we are fortunate to have access to high quality blood,
blood products and alternatives. Canadians can rely on approximately 3.5 per
cent of the eligible population to donate blood annually. Since a substantial
number of Canadians will require blood or blood products at some time in their
lives, it is time to see more Canadians become regular lifelong donors.
A blood donor week will give us the chance to honour donors in their acts of
kindness and generosity, and to thank those who give blood on a regular basis. A
yearly celebration would reinforce the message that blood is the gift of life
and that a blood donation can save the lives of many. Demographics have shown
that in the face of an aging population, the demand for blood and blood products
will continue to grow, and so we need to encourage more Canadians to donate. The
creation of a national blood donor week would be a nationwide celebration of
blood donors across the country and would show that the spirit of giving to help
our fellow Canadians is alive and well. We thank all Canadian donors who give
the gift of life, and I urge honourable senators to vote in favour of Bill
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Cochrane, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Goldstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput, for the second reading of Bill
S-205, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (student loans). —(Honourable
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have absolutely no objection if Senator Hubley speaks to Bill S-205
at this time but this side would like to reserve the 45 minutes for the
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, today we will play a
little game. Perhaps you are familiar with it, from episodes of "Sesame
Street." It is called "one of these things is not like the others."
Here is my list: Court-imposed fines; court-imposed family payments;
court-imposed damages in civil cases; court-imposed liabilities from fraud; and,
government student loans.
The answer seems obvious, does it not? That is, unless you read the
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In this act, you find that all of these things
are the same. When it comes to declaring bankruptcy, government student loans
are treated the same way as court findings against an individual and are exempt
from relief through bankruptcy. While the exception for student loans is only
for 10 years, it still seems incongruous that student loans are lumped in with
court-ordered payments. Senator Goldstein, in his remarks in support of Bill
S-205, outlined some of the history behind this categorization — principally,
the fear of widespread abuse of the bankruptcy provisions of the Canadian legal
system by recent graduates.
First let me dispense with this myth. Not only is there no documented
justification for this viewpoint, the reality is quite the opposite. There is
substantial evidence to show that this viewpoint is wrong. Studies have looked
at bankruptcy applications before this exception was enacted, and the
conclusions were that there was no evidence of widespread fraud. Those people
who were listing student loan debts in bankruptcy applications were those who
were unable to profit from their education. The reasons for this were
widespread, from disability through to declining job futures in a given field.
It was evident that these were legitimate cases of people experiencing undue
hardship; that is, people who needed a fresh start and people who the Bankruptcy
Act was intended to help.
Why is there a special status for student loans? The existing provision leads
to the assumption that any bankruptcy applicant with a student loan is
fraudulent, that there is no valid reason to apply for bankruptcy relief for a
student loan and, even worse, this is a blanket provision. The applicant does
not even have the option of proving that they are honest and acting in good
faith. The law does not provide for an appeal process or recognize that there
can be a legitimate reason for applying for bankruptcy due to excessive student
At present, students cannot hope for relief from overly burdensome student
loans for 10 years. It does not matter if the student suffers from some
disability that prevents them from earning a living. It does not matter if
economic pressures prevent them from earning a living. It does not matter if
family situations limit their choices. In most cases, their student loan is the
main problem. If they find themselves in trouble, there is no hope. Although
they may leave university full of promise for the future, much can happen in 10
Honourable senators, I fully support this bill and congratulate Senator
Goldstein for introducing it. In fact, I wish that this bill went farther, and
removed fully the student loan exemption. There is no need to assume that
students who need to seek bankruptcy protection are perpetrating a fraud. This
bill will at least give them the opportunity to prove that they are acting in
good faith, a simple option which is not available to them now.
Although we can start to impose some sanity into the system by passing this
bill, I believe that we must go much further. After all, the underlying problem
is student debt. As a society, we constantly repeat the mantra that the path to
a prosperous future is through education, but successive governments have failed
and are failing young Canadians. We repeatedly acknowledge the importance of
education, not only to the individual, but also to the health of our economy and
our society. In the meantime, the cost of education continues to increase. The
response has been to give more loans to students, but is that really the answer?
If we truly believe in the importance of higher education, why do we add to the
system that burdens young graduates with huge debt loads? If we did not force
high debt on our students, we need not worry about whether or not student loans
are covered in bankruptcy legislation.
Perhaps a few figures will help to describe the situation faced by many
students. Last year, Statistics Canada released a report entitled, "How
Students Fund Their Post-Secondary Education," which looked at data up to the
year 2002. One of the facts that jumped out at me was the increase in tuition.
From 1990 until 2002, tuition increased by an average annual rate of 8.1 per
cent. When one compares this to inflation, at an average annual increase of 1.9
per cent, one will see that tuition has increased four times faster than
inflation. This report also noted that, when one looks at higher-priced
university programs, the participants were predominantly from families from
higher socio-economic backgrounds. This suggests that perhaps we, as a society,
are limiting some programs to those who can afford the program, not those who
are best suited for the program.
Another report released last year from Human Resources and Skills Development
Canada analysed trends in student borrowing from 1990 to 2000. This study found
that, although the percentage of university and college students who take
advantage of government student loan programs remained about 50 per cent for the
study period, the typical amount owed over this 10-year period increased by over
60 per cent. It is not surprising that this same study found that the number of
students having difficulty paying back their loans has increased over the 10
In conclusion, these statistics reveal an underlying problem: While we talk
about the importance of higher education and the need to encourage students to
pursue higher education, we then sit by and watch the barriers for those same
students climb higher and higher. It is not surprising that we are here today
talking about student bankruptcy. However, while this bill will remove one of
the glaring faults in the system, and I fully support this initiative, we are
missing the real point. Today I encourage and challenge all honourable senators
to begin dealing with the real problem, the problem of student debt and the
increasing cost of higher education.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Hubley: Certainly.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, let me congratulate the
Honourable Senator Hubley on her speech and Senator Goldstein on this extremely
Honourable senators, I want to set the stage by explaining my own error. I
had thought that the six-month period following a student's graduation — and
where they had not given indication that they were going to continue on school
the next year — was a period which was interest-free. However, it is not.
Interest actually begins to accrue the day the students have completed their
course. The six-month period refers to a period of time when they can set up
their repayment schedule.
I subsequently learned that the bureaucracy is taking some three or four
months to respond to the student with respect to what this repayment schedule
will be. If a student does not finish classes and begin immediately to negotiate
how to pay back their student loan — should they let a couple of months go by —
they will find themselves in default, and they will be listed in the statistics
as a student in default.
Does the Honourable Senator Hubley believe that is fair to the students of
Senator Hubley: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I
also appreciate her illuminating the problem as it comes down on students. Of
course, what Senator Carstairs has stated is correct and, of course, I do not
agree with it.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Would the senator take another question? I should
like to congratulate Senator Hubley on her speech, along with Senator Goldstein
for raising this extremely important issue.
There are students in Canada with overwhelming debt. To not be able to
declare bankruptcy until 10 years has passed since graduation puts a tremendous
onus on a student, particularly in an age where so many of the jobs students are
getting now are contract jobs. These young people are not guaranteed employment
for a full year, and they have no benefits. They are getting short-term
contracts one after the other.
I know the honourable senator has done some studies on this subject. I am
wondering whether she has come across any information to suggest a correlation
between students who are buried under debt and mental health problems? We are
talking here of people in their late 20s only and who are faced with debt they
cannot get out of. I have heard of depression and other mental health issues —
and, in some cases, unfortunately, suicides — as a result of debt these students
Senator Hubley: I thank the honourable senator for her question.
Again, she has shown to us the effects of heavy student loans on individuals.
One of the most difficult things today for our young people who have worked
their way through university and accumulated a huge debt load, in many
instances, is that they do not have any hope of getting the job they have worked
all their lives for and received the training and the education to fulfill. That
letdown is a difficult one.
That realization, when they get out of school and are faced with their debt,
is difficult on our young people. In other words, we are pushing our young
people back; we are not bringing them forward and providing the opportunity for
them to be successful in their lives.
The other thing that is difficult about this subject is that we do not hear
enough about it, so I thank the honourable senator for her question. I am sorry
I do not have actual statistics to share with Senator Cordy, but I have heard
many stories that tell me that what she has alluded to does in fact happen.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there further debate?
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carney, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the second reading of Bill
S-215, An Act to protect heritage lighthouses.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the Deputy Leader of the
Government has asked to stand the debate on this bill.
Again, I am encouraged by the fate of Bill S-203, Senator Bryden's bill to
amend the Criminal Code, which had been sent to committee stage for one day,
returned here and received third reading today, meaning that it will be
reinstated at the committee stage of the House of Commons, where it was at the
time of prorogation.
Bill S-215, which has now been called, is in the same situation. It was at
committee stage in the House of Commons when prorogation overtook us. The only
difference is that Bill S-215 has been passed on six previous occasions by the
May I ask the deputy leader to bring us up to date as to status of this bill
and the government's intentions with regard to it?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I believe I
indicated last week that the sponsor of the bill had indicated that she had
three ministers who had supported the bill in writing. I have requested those
letters to be sent to me, as critic of the bill.
I indicated at that time that, if there were three letters from three
ministers who indicated their support the bill, I do not think it would take all
that long for the bill to move forward.
I am still waiting for two of them. I have subsequently learned that one of
the three ministers did not send that letter — I think it was the Minister of
Heritage. I believe Senator Carney did correct the record. I am still waiting
for the lead minister on this to advise us on his perception of the status of
the bill so that I can properly do my job as critic of the bill.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I will let pass the rather
unusual situation in which the Deputy Leader of the Government is a critic of a
bill proposed by one of his caucus colleagues that is not my business.
With regard to the ministers, the lead minister to whom he refers is what
Senator Comeau: If we are going to get into debate on this point — and
I am not sure how proper this is. The honourable senator's question related to
the status of the bill and whether I am going to move it today. The honourable
senator has his answer; today is not the day, for sure.
I am prepared to provide further information, but I am not sure, at this
stage of the proceedings, whether there should be a dialogue between him and me.
I am not sure how appropriate this is. Perhaps the Speaker or the chair of the
Rules Committee can provide further information.
However, I shall respond to the question and leave it up to the powers that
be to decide whether this is a proper means to get into a dialogue.
As to the question of whether the Deputy Leader of the Government in the
Senate can act as the critic of a bill, I shall leave that up to others as well.
I do not know what the honourable senator's problem is with that, but I shall
leave that up to him.
Regarding the lead minister on this matter, it is the Minister of the
Environment. The Minister of the Environment effectively establishes the
criteria by which heritage lighthouses would be designated as such. The other
minister, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is the minister from which the
funding for heritage buildings comes. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
provides the funding and the Minister of the Environment provides the
It should therefore be evident that this is more complicated than what the
honourable senator makes it out to be at face value. It is a complicated bill,
and it involves much more than Senator Murray makes it out to be, in spite of
the fact that in his speech of last week, he did indicate that —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. We are getting into debate. My
understanding is that we were at the level of clarification. Is there debate on
this item that has been called, or shall it stand?
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cochrane, for the second reading of Bill S-201, An
Act to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act
(quarterly financial reports).—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I am the critic for this bill, which I think is very interesting, and,
barring any objections, it should be referred to committee for examination.
On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dallaire,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore, for the second reading of Bill
C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance
abroad.—(Honourable Senator Segal)
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I am delighted to rise to speak
to Bill C-293, reintroduced some days ago by Senator Dallaire in this chamber.
While in Tanzania this past weekend, Prime Minister Harper announced a $105
million program to help train over 40,000 health workers. The initiative will
also provide treatment for diseases such as malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis and malnutrition for the impoverished in Africa and Asia. The
program is called the "Save a Million Lives" program.
As former colleagues of mine on the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign
Affairs and International Trade will be delighted to know, the Prime Minister
also committed the government to doubling the level of financial aid to Africa
in the proximate period of time.
I mention this worthwhile and necessary effort to point out that Canadian
foreign aid used to purchase malaria bed nets and decrease child morbidity may
not necessarily contribute to poverty reduction as defined in Bill C-293, but is
nevertheless essential. There is nothing wrong the intent of Bill C-293: To
provide a partial statutory context for Canadian development assistance, to
focus Canadian development assistance on poverty reduction and to strengthen the
accountability regime of Canada's assistance programs. I heartily endorse the
However, in reality, Bill C-293, no doubt unwittingly, tends to undermine the
very objectives that it tries to establish. The Canadian International
Development Agency needs a huge fix and, unfortunately, this is not it. The
proposed legislation is diversionary; that is not its intent, but that will be
its impact. Bill C-293 has, however, opened the door for a much-needed
discussion on Canada's foreign aid goals of transparency and accountability as
to the spending of tax dollars and the parameters around which Canada must focus
in order to get the "best bang for the buck" in its attempts to assist poor
and developing nations. I am delighted to see that the management and focusing
of foreign aid was also featured in the Speech from the Throne read by Her
Excellency in this chamber a few weeks ago.
I also believe that this general debate regarding the bill affords us a
remarkable opportunity to work together and to move this bill ahead by
strengthening it, by making it more effective and by having it achieve the goals
its authors had in mind. I do not believe the present draft does not do this as
perfectly as some suggest.
The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade held
five meetings in the last session on Bill C-293. Members heard from, among
others, representatives from the Canadian Council for International
Co-operation, Inter Pares, the Canadian International Development Agency, the
Afghanistan Task Force, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The
committee also heard from John Sloan, the Director General of the Economic
Policy Bureau; Alain Tellier, Deputy Director of the Criminal, Security and
Privileges and Immunities Law Section; Finance Canada; the Canadian Council on
Africa; Mark Lowcock, the Director General for Policy and International Division
for the British Department of International Development; Robert Fowler, retired
senior official; and George Ayittey, Professor of Economics for the American
University International Development Research Centre.
This broad range of witnesses, with their expertise and attitudes, weighed in
with their best opinions and judgments regarding this bill. The overwhelming
view was that the intent of the bill had immense merit and that the authors
should be congratulated. However, while the spirit of the proposed legislation
was based on solid tenets, it was not reflected in the precise drafting as well
as might have been the case.
I will provide an example. One of the requirements laid out in Bill C-293
received much attention and discussion at committee. I refer to the reporting
requirements in clause 5(1). Senator Dallaire, in his representation before the
committee, said: "The Minister of Finance is responsible for a third report
discussed in this bill, which is a report on Canada's activities at the Bretton
Woods Institutions." Graham Flack, Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs, one of the brightest and most compelling young public servants, an
outstanding reflection of the very best of our public service, used an
interesting analogy regarding the reporting requirement:
The analogy I might give is that it is like being inside cabinet. They
might be able to comply once, and then they would no longer be in the
cabinet. To the extent that we provided that confidential information and
released it, the flow of confidential information would cease.
Here Mr. Flack was referring to the confidential flow of information to
His point was to stress that "any representation" as laid out in Bill C-293
would require Canadian representatives to divulge information considered
confidential. This may not be the purpose of the reporting requirement, but it
would be an unintended result.
My worry is that this bill does not achieve any of the goals of broader
transparency and a broader regime of governance that various people over time —
including those within CIDA — have suggested we may want to embrace. The notion
that we do not have our own department of international development, as they do
in the United Kingdom, and that we ought to use their department as a model for
explicit legislation as opposed to being a subparagraph of another act, but its
own law, which we have now, is the reason for the year-long discussion regarding
Canada's foreign aid objectives.
One of the most compelling of the committee's witnesses in the last session
was Mark Lowcock, the Director General for Policy and International Division at
the British Department of International Development. He outlined the United
Kingdom's position on its parameters of disbursement of foreign aid dollars and
its view on "poverty reduction as its goal." He stated:
DFID ministers and senior officials always understood that long-term,
sustainable poverty reduction involved addressing the causes of poverty; and
they interpreted it broadly to include investing in economic growth,
conflict reduction, improving governance, fighting corruption and long-term
investments, such as research and development, and human development.
He went on to say that the 2002 British act:
. . . provides clarity of purpose. It ensures that we avoid the problems
we encountered when we used the aid program to pursue multiple objectives. .
. . My ministers believe that the act has helped to strengthen public
support for foreign assistance.
Bill C-293 and the use of the term "poverty reduction" to the exclusion of
all others actually hampers ministerial decisions when allotting aid dollars and
does not allow for the minister and his or her officials to apply a broad
interpretation as is needed from country to country or situation to situation.
The UK legislation allows this.
As I said in committee, CIDA, to their credit, does spend a large amount of
money on judicial training for the purpose of having honest, well-trained
judiciaries that are capable of understanding and advancing the administration
of justice and support of human rights in support of the role of an independent
court system. Without being extreme, someone may ask what that has to do with
poverty reduction. Why should you be spending money in country "A" to train
the judiciary when you should be spending all your money in country "A" on
poverty reduction because that is what Bill C-293 states is the focused mandate.
Maureen O'Neil, another distinguished public servant, president of the IDRC,
stated in her testimony:
Part of Canada's aid to poverty reduction has to go into the long-term
effort to build sustainable innovation systems in developing countries, to
assist them to develop their own solutions to their problems.
The other troubling aspect of the bill as drafted is the consultation
requirements. These were also discussed at length in the standing committee of
this house. As far as I am concerned, the problems with clause 4(1)(2) were best
summarized by former ambassador Robert Fowler, former Deputy Minister of
Defence, a former ambassador to Rome and special representative for Prime
Minister Martin and Prime Minister Harper in Africa. He said:
I am a firm believer in the importance of wide consultation with our
development partners. This language, however, strikes me on general grounds
as unnecessarily specific in instructing the minister in how to do his or
With regard to the reporting requirements, Mr. Fowler added:
Layering additional reporting and message massaging requirements on the
already bureaucratically constipated CIDA bureaucracy will render our aid
delivery even more cumbersome and slow.
We have a possible interpretation under the wording of the bill that could
require consultation with everyone on every dollar spent. Based on all the
testimony put forth by men and women of goodwill, more knowledgeable in these
matters than I am, regarding the business of foreign aid, I am, quite frankly, a
little surprised that no amendments were put forward before the bill was sent
back to the chamber for its consideration.
I made my views known on Bill C-293 in the last session. I shared possible
amendments with the honourable sponsor of the bill, and I listened closely to
what was said at committee by both advocates and critics of the bill on all
sides. My feelings have not changed. When Bill C-293 is once again up for
discussion at committee, I shall propose the same amendments, especially in
relation to the consultation process and reporting requirements. I should also
like to open up for discussion the possibility of having the bill align itself
more closely toward compliance with the new guidelines set out in the 2005 Paris
Declaration, which outlines the amount of aid but more specifically the
effectiveness of aid in recipient countries.
The Paris Declaration lays down a practical, action-oriented roadmap to
improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The 56 partnership
commitments are organized around the five key principles: ownership,
alignment, harmonisation, managing for results, and mutual accountability.
I believe this statement encompasses much of what Bill C-293 is attempting to
achieve, and perhaps the committee could study the document further and
determine whether the objective of this declaration is something we might also
add in some of the definitions for the bill.
Bill C-293 is a bill with immense merit. We can on all sides move together.
We can work together. We can make real and significant progress on the bill, all
the while maintaining its integrity and objectives. I believe that jointly
sponsored amendments would pass quickly in the other place and quickly become
law if we could work together on that. However, should the choice be made by the
majority, which is absolutely their right, to reject any and all attempts at
improving the bill, then that would make collaboration more challenging.
The discussions and questions by my honourable colleagues on both sides in
the last session at committee lead me to believe that many are prepared to work
together on all sides to improve the noble and necessary goals of C-293 and the
extent to which the drafting sustains those goals. There are good people on both
sides of this debate. We have a chance to work together. I appeal to both sides
to find a way to do so.
On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Goldstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Campbell, for the second reading of Bill
C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming
into force of sections 110, 111 and 171). —(Honourable Senator Di Nino)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to
Bill C-280, to create the refugee appeal division, or RAD for short, at second
Before I begin, I must admit that I am a bit surprised at the lightning speed
with which the Liberal Party embraced a private members' bill presented by the
Bloc Québécois, the separatist party.
Honestly, I am still trying to understand how the Liberal Party can sit in
the opposition and claim that the refugee appeal division is a good idea, when,
not so long ago, when that party was in power, it refused to implement the RAD,
and rightfully so.
Honourable senators, my friend and colleague Senator Goldstein, in his speech
on June 14, said:
If we cannot provide refugee claimants with every reasonable possibility
of asserting refugee status, and if de facto refugee claimants are given a
single kick at the can, a single hearing before a single adjudicator, with
no further recourse from a practical perspective, our system is condemning
some legitimate refugees to torture and death.
Senator Goldstein's contentions are inaccurate; they are simply wrong. There
are in fact other recourses available. Failed refugee claimants can seek
judicial review by the Federal Court, apply for permanent residence on
humanitarian and compassionate grounds or seek a pre-removal risk assessment.
Let me quote from former Liberal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the
Honourable Joe Volpe in response to a question in the other place:
The member should know that the appeals processes are there for everybody
and that they work quite well. We're not interested in adding another layer
The fact of the matter is that our current refugee system already contains
enough provisions and processes that allow refugee claimants to revisit their
The process is such that many cases are taking years to work their way
through the system without the addition of another appeal with its corresponding
costs, delays and bureaucracy.
To be clear, this government sees no reason to implement the refugee appeal
division, or RAD, at this time, since, as the Honourable Minister of Citizenship
and Immigration has already stated, Canada's current refugee-determination
system meets all international and domestic legal requirements. In fact, the
UNHCR gives our system an excellent grade.
It provides appropriate protection to all those who need it. It also provides
a number of opportunities for decisions to be reviewed.
The members were told that implementing the sections of the Immigration and
Refugee Protection Act regarding the RAD would add at least five months to the
As my honourable colleagues know, the media have reported an increase in the
number of refugee claims presented at Canada's borders. In fact, this year there
has been an increase in the total number of refugee claims presented in Canada
compared to last year.
This increased volume will put pressure on the refugee claim system, which is
slow and unwieldy, a pressure that would be heightened by the addition of the
refugee appeal division.
Honourable senators, in this context, there is a growing consensus that the
refugee determination process needs to be more efficient.
In fact, the president of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Elizabeth
Refugee claims need to be rapidly decided, so that those who need
Canada's protection get it quickly.
It is worth noting that the former Liberal immigration critic, Mr. Omar
Alghabra, said that the current refugee process takes too long and allows
"bogus refugees . . . to stay longer, with potential implications for Canadian
If the Liberals believe that the current refugee process has taken too long,
why would they support Bill C-280, which would likely extend the refugee process
by at least five months? If they believe that the process takes too long, they
should not be voting to extend this very process.
To make this point, during the vote on Bill C-280 in the House of Commons,
the Honourable Joe Volpe, the last Liberal Minister of Immigration, actually
voted against Bill C-280. It is also worth noting that Mr. Volpe's caucus
colleagues, former Liberal Immigration Ministers the Honourable Judy Sgro and
the Honourable Denis Coderre, also refused to vote for Bill C-280. Why would
these three former Liberal immigration ministers refuse to support Bill C-280?
Surely, they are the foremost Liberal experts on the file. In fact, they
probably have more knowledge of the complex immigration issues than all other
Liberal members of Parliament put together. Why did they refuse to support their
party critic's position? Why did they refuse to support their own leader, the
Honourable Stéphane Dion, in this regard?
The answer is quite clear: They know that Bill C-280 will not solve the
problem of timely processing of refugee files; it will compound it. It is as
simple as that.
The federal government will have to cover the cost of operating the RAD,
estimated at tens of millions of dollars per year.
We should not forget that implementing the RAD will also result in
considerable expenses for provincial and territorial governments.
These governments are responsible for the well-being of asylum seekers while
refugee claims and appeals are being processed.
Just think of the legal aid costs. The provinces have asked for an additional
$11.5 million every year since 2001 to cover the costs of legal aid for
immigration and refugee cases.
Of the estimated tens of millions of dollars that implementation of the RAD
will cost each year, the provinces will have to allocate $21.2 million annually
for social assistance provided to asylum seekers during the additional waiting
period prior to a ruling in their case, as well as bear the costs associated
with legal aid and education.
Another reason to oppose this bill is that it would be irresponsible to
support a bill that would come into force without actual bricks and mortar,
staff and rules of the RAD in place.
Honourable senators, the Immigration and Refugee Board has said that the
competency profile of members of RAD is different from other IRB members. To
quote the IRB:
Selection would have to reflect the tasks of an appellate decision-maker,
require a stronger legal/analytical capacity. . . and some prior
The IRB also said: "The only workable way to implement would be to have a
date of implementation one year after Royal Assent," so that there is a full
complement of members, training and a case tracking system.
I am also surprised that members of the opposition would support a bill that
would bring into force only some of the provisions related to RAD, while leaving
out a key provision as well as transition provisions that speak to the broader
For example, Bill C-280 does not bring into force section 73 of the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This section would enable the minister
to apply for judicial review of RAD decisions.
Why allow only failed refugee claimants the ability to apply for judicial
review of RAD decisions and not the government, through the minister who
represents the broader interests of the Canadian public? This is not a balanced
Furthermore, Bill C-280 leaves out transitional provisions, meaning that RAD
would have a backlog on its first day of operation of up to 7,000 cases from
time of Royal Assent, and possibly tens of thousands should the Federal Court
allow for appeals of previous decisions. This could very well delay decision-making for years.
Bill C-280, as written, fails to include transitional provisions from the
current process and rules to a new one. This failure to include transitional
provisions could effectively result in an enormous backlog of tens of thousands
The former Liberal Immigration Minister, the Honourable Judy Sgro,
acknowledged the danger of this backlog when she said:
I believe you're aware that the reason it was not implemented was the
fact that we had, and continue to have, huge volume pressures on the system.
Supporters of Bill C-280 allege that the government's decision not to
implement the RAD amounts to contempt of Parliament. Yet in the same breath,
these same people are asking Parliament not to give effect to section 73, a key
How can these people accuse the government of contempt of Parliament when
they themselves are choosing to set aside a fundamental provision of the current
act? It is hypocritical. Honourable senators, the fact is that the system in
Supporters of Bill C-280 will say that the RAD is needed because, when the
IRPA came into force in 2002, the two-member panels provided for under the
former Immigration Act were reduced to only one member.
In fact, as there were very few cases before 2002 where two panel members
disagreed, the real benefits of having two-member panels are not clear.
There were fewer than 100 decisions a year where one of the two members
dissented. In other words, a second opinion benefited asylum seekers in just
under one half of 1 per cent of cases. That is 0.05 per cent. That does not
really warrant implementing the RAD.
To illustrate how RAD would do more harm than good, listen to the following
Let me briefly turn my attention to the refugee appeal division. At your
insistence, I've given a lot of thought in the past few months about whether
to implement the RAD. I've considered several options and alternatives. I've
also met with and discussed the issue with stakeholders and NGOs on both
sides of the debate. My decision not to implement at this time is based on
several considerations. The first is that our current refugee system is
already fair. I'd indicated to you that I wanted to work on a system that
was fast, fair, and final. We invest in a strong first-level decision with
an independent tribunal, well-trained decision-makers, and solid
institutional support. The IRB has become truly a merit-based organization.
Its staff must meet criteria that are adjudicated by outside bodies, and
they meet the test of knowledge and competence. I think the system offers
protection to those in genuine need and helps to reinforce the country's
track record of compassion and openness to those seeking asylum from around
the world. Indeed, as you know, Canada is a world leader in treating
applications in a fair and generous way.
That is a quotation from the former Liberal Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, the Honourable Joe Volpe, when he appeared before the Standing
Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on November 1, 2005.
Honourable senators, simply put, the implementation of the RAD would
translate into even longer delays. This situation is especially true in light of
the generosity of the current system, which, contrary to the belief of my
friend, Senator Goldstein, affords several opportunities to claimants to show
why they should not be removed. The system includes a generous first-level
Independent Review Board, IRB, hearing, the ability to apply for permanent
residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a pre-removal risk
assessment, and judicial review of the existing system.
Honourable senators, we must all consider whether creating more layers will
enhance what is already regarded as one of the best and most generous refugee
determination systems in the world.
Canadians can be proud that our system is highly regarded and that it
reflects our Canadian values of fairness and compassion. Are we being fair to
the individuals who are currently waiting for their claims to be heard by asking
them to wait even longer for a resolution? I think not.
Honourable senators, implementing the RAD is a solution in search of a
problem. I am confident that Canadians would say that the system does not need
more red tape, more bureaucracy, more delays, more processes, and additional
costs. Not only would ordinary Canadians say that, but, as I stated earlier, I
dare say that the last three Liberals to hold the position of Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration have clearly made known their opposition to this
Canadians whose goodwill will be tested by this bill's proposal expect a
refugee system that helps legitimate refugees. They do not want a system that
further prolongs an already fair, generous, and extremely lengthy refugee
determination process. Once again, according to the Honourable Joe Volpe,
"Protection is really what counts and that's what the current system does."
To conclude, I urge all honourable senators to listen to former Liberal
Immigration Minister Judy Sgro, who said:
Bringing in . . . that particular appeal at this time would simply add
more roadblocks and more time to the system, which I frankly believe would
prevent us from helping the very same people we want to help, people who
come here genuinely seeking a safe place.
Obviously, I am in total agreement with the honourable member's comments.
Honourable senators, three former Liberal immigration ministers could not
support this legislation. If the Senate chooses to send this bill to committee,
I hope all three will be invited to appear before the relevant committee to
explain their unequivocal statements on this important matter.
How can senators opposite, in good faith, ignore the considered advice from
not one but three experts, all former Liberal immigration ministers? What has
changed since then?
I urge colleagues to do the right thing and follow the advice of several
ministers of citizenship and immigration from both previous and current
governments, and vote against Bill C-280. Implementing the refugee appeal
division is neither necessary nor advisable at this time. Increasing the delay
in the refugee determination process is unfair to refugees and their families,
as well as Canadians who expect an efficient and timely refugee determination
I fear implementing the RAD will negatively impact the integrity of the
current system. This is why I will vote against this legislation and urge all
honourable senators to do the same.
On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cowan:
That the following humble Address be presented to Her Excellency, The
Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada:
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
WHEREAS full representation in the Senate of Canada is a
constitutional guarantee to every province as part of the compromise
that made Confederation possible;
AND WHEREAS the stated position of the Prime Minister that he "does
not intend to appoint senators, unless necessary" represents a
unilateral denial of the rights of the provinces;
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister's disregard of the Constitution of
Canada places the Governor General in the intolerable situation of not
being able to carry out her sworn duties under section s. 32 of the
Constitution Act, 1867, which states, "When a Vacancy happens in
the Senate by Resignation, Death, or otherwise, the Governor General
shall by Summons to a fit and qualified Person fill the Vacancy.";
AND WHEREAS upon the failure of the Prime Minister to tender advice
it is the duty of the Governor General to uphold the Constitution of
Canada and its laws and not be constrained by the willful omission of
the Prime Minister;
Therefore, we humbly pray that Your Excellency will exercise Her lawful
and constitutional duties and will summon qualified persons to the Senate of
Canada, thereby assuring that the people and regions of our country have
their full representation in a properly functioning Parliament, as that is
their undeniable right guaranteed in the Constitution of Canada.—(Honourable
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I should like to mention
to this house that last Wednesday I asked Senator Tkachuk when he might be able
to speak to my motion. He spoke with me the following day and indicated that he
would speak on Tuesday, December 4. I therefore look forward to his remarks
before putting my motion to the vote.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) rose pursuant
to notice of November 21, 2007:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the debilitating nature
of arthritis and its affect on all Canadians.
He said: Honourable senators, in my view, a major responsibility of the
Senate is to raise the awareness of issues that deserve more public attention.
An ailment that directly impacts 4 million Canadians deserves the attention of
parliamentarians, governments and all Canadians.
The inquiry we have here this afternoon is on arthritis. I do not have
arthritis, but I have observed the suffering it can cause. It is difficult for a
family to watch a loved one who suffers from this ailment. When one looks at the
statistics, it is surprising and alarming that arthritis receives so little
attention from the general population and so little attention on the public
health agenda. When we consider that it affects one in six Canadians — and this
number is much larger when we factor in the families and friends of arthritis
sufferers — it impacts all of us.
According to the World Bank, it ranks amongst the top causes of disability
worldwide. According to a report published by Public Health Agency of Canada in
2004, it is the first or second cause of workplace disability. The portion of
patients disabled is two times greater than any other chronic condition. A
report from Statistics Canada, The Economic Burden of Illness, states
that the yearly cost of work disability from arthritis and musculoskeletal (MSK)
conditions is $13.6 billion per year in Canada. That data is from 1998, Senator
Oliver, and it is probably much higher now if we were to do the census.
Although there are over 100 forms of arthritis, it is easier to think in two
main categories. The first one, osteoarthritis, OA, is a degenerative arthritis
with loss of joint cartilage and changes to the bone underlying the joint. It is
the most common form of arthritis and represents at least 75 per cent of all
arthritis in adults.
The end result is destruction of the joint cartilage and changes to the
underlying bone. For people with OA, progressive pain and joint stiffness result
in reduced independence due to physical disability, increased health care
utilization and decreased quality of life. About 95 per cent of all hip and knee
replacements in Canada are performed because of OA. By the year 2026, there will
be a 50-per-cent increase in the number of Canadians with arthritis, and this
increase is mostly due to OA.
Risk factors for development of OA include older age, repetitive joint
trauma, genetic predisposition, metabolic factors and physical inactivity. Women
are more likely to develop OA and are two times more likely to become disabled
Honourable senators, I think you will notice that I am going through a lot of
statistics. Others will probably have a much more interesting way of presenting
the illness, but I wanted to give the statistics. Arthritis is 2.5 times more
common in the Aboriginal population. The prevalence is 27 per cent for the
Aboriginal population, versus 16 per cent for the general Canadian population.
Contrary to popular opinion — and this is important — osteoarthritis is not a
normal consequence of aging.
The second category of arthritis is inflammatory arthritis and it can occur
at any age.
Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis.
Other forms include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus and gout,
to name a few. RA is the form of arthritis with the highest rates of work
disability, ranging from 32 per cent to 50 per cent within 10 years of the
disease onset, and increasing from 50 per cent to 90 per cent after 30 years of
Work loss only partially captures the impact of arthritis on employment.
There is lost productivity due to reduced performance at work. A study done by
Dr. Diane Lacaille at the University of British Columbia found that reduced
productivity was the largest component of indirect cost. In speaking about
productivity, Canada has many committees looking at the issue of how to increase
productivity in Canada. The largest component of productivity lost in Canada is
caused by this ailment. Exceeded wage loss due to loss of job stands at 30 per
cent, and reduced hours in absenteeism stands at 12 per cent.
In addition to its economic impact, work and productivity loss also have
important psychosocial implications affecting one's sense of identity,
self-esteem and competence. Rheumatoid arthritis is three times more common in
women than men and the most common age of onset is between 30 and 50 years of
age. It affects people during their most productive working years. Rheumatoid
arthritis is also more common in the Aboriginal population where it occurs 10
years earlier and is much more severe.
What can be done? Prevention is the key to the management of osteoarthritis.
Known preventative strategies are ignored. An 11-pound weight loss leads to a
50 per cent reduction in the risk of developing OA of the knee. We now know that
early recognition and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis can result in clinical
remission in up to 50 per cent of people.
New therapies and biologics are available that can substantially decrease
pain, swelling and deformity. They are effective in rheumatoid arthritis, but
recent data shows that they are even better in treatment of ailments such as
psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
There are marked disparities between which medications are accessible
depending on the province of residence. Depending on where one lives in Canada,
one may or may not be lucky. In Atlantic Canada, 30 per cent of people do not
have provincial coverage or private medical coverage and thus cannot access any
of these effective newer medications that not only control their disease, but
also prevent deformity. Evidence shows a decrease in work disability.
According to a presentation by Dr. Gillian Hawker made at the Alliance for
the Canadian Arthritis Program, a number of alarming concerns were highlighted.
She said that there is little or no awareness of cause, course or management of
arthritis. In addition, known prevention strategies are ignored and current
models of care delivery are inefficient and inadequate. There are inefficient
and costly waits for medications, rheumatology care, surgery, et cetera. Dr.
Hawker also stated that there are marked disparities between provinces in
ability to access appropriate care and that arthritis receives less than 1.3 per
cent of medical research funding in this country. Honourable senators, that is a
A further impact, according to Dr. Hawker, is that arthritis is the number
one cause of disability. Arthritis has a major impact on the functioning and
independence of our population. Statistics show that 17.6 per cent of the
population 15 years and older report suffering from arthritis.
The total costs, direct and indirect, of arthritis are substantial. Since
arthritis often limits physical function and imposes significant pain and
suffering, a high proportion of indirect costs are attributable to long-term
disability, such as economic dependence and social isolation.
Arthritis-associated morbidity has been estimated to comprise approximately half
of all morbidity due to musculoskeletal disorders, or about $6 billion annually
in Canada. Based on population projections and trends, it is estimated that the
prevalence of arthritis will grow to between 21 per cent and 26 per cent by
Honourable senators, there are preventive measures possible to reduce the
incidence of arthritis and therefore lessen the burden it places on our finite
health care resources. In 2005, a summit on standards for arthritis prevention
and care produced an evidence-based national strategy for arthritis prevention
and care to guide federal and provincial government health policy development.
Professionals have produced the road map to guide us.
Every Canadian must be aware of arthritis. All relevant health care
professionals must be able to perform a valid, standardized, age-appropriate MSK
The commitment with which arthritis professionals view the importance of this
subject is demonstrated in that they recommend that not only would specialists
look at and identify early arthritis, but they would also welcome others in the
field of medicine to identify the early stages of arthritis so that it could be
treated early. It is telling that arthritis professionals are prepared to bring
in others to help them in the quest for early detection. Every Canadian with
arthritis must have timely and equal access to appropriate medications.
In conclusion, honourable senators, allow me to say how impressed I am with
the dedication of the members of the Alliance for the Canadian Arthritis
Program. I invite all honourable senators to talk to members of the alliance.
You will quickly realize that they strongly believe in their program, but need
our help, and we need them as well.
I know there are others in this chamber who suffer the ailment and who are
probably able to provide a much better and more passionate way of presenting the
disease and ideas as to how to progress. Mine is limited to having had a family
member with a difficult case of arthritis, but I was not able to feel the pain
she felt. I know others in this chamber feel the pain of arthritis on a daily
basis and are able to come into this chamber and do the best they can without
showing the affliction that they have. I know a number of senators in this
chamber do their best, but it is very painful for them. We must be mindful of
Honourable senators, arthritis is not a question of age; it is a question of
people being faced with this disease at a stage in life when they were probably
the most productive, and they must deal with it as the years go by. I invite
others to provide their stories to see if we can make arthritis better known to
the Canadian public and those decision makers, both at the provincial and
federal level, who can make a difference in how we treat this disease.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Comeau: Certainly.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, as a sufferer of arthritis since
my 30s, I am concerned about the things the honourable senator has mentioned.
What steps does this government plan to take to increase the amount of money
spent on research for early detection of this disease?
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I do not wish to reduce the
discussion at this point to "your government did this and so our government
will do this," or a question of "what is your government doing about this, we
can do a heck of a lot more." If the honourable senator was listening to my
speech, I urge more awareness. This affects the federal and provincial
governments as well as society in general. It is much more than just saying put
your money where your mouth is. We must go beyond that. The honourable senator,
as a sufferer of arthritis, should appreciate that.
On motion of Senator Keon, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 1:30 p.m.